Hot seat: Can Falcons’ Elijah Wilkinson, Drew Dalman slow Aaron Donald

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Falcons left guard Elijah Wilkinson has been preparing for this matchup since early in the offseason when he was moved to guard from tackle.

That move put Wilkinson up against Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett daily.

Now, he’ll get to face perhaps the best defensive tackle in the NFL in Aaron Donald when the Falcons meet the Rams at 4:05 p.m. Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

Wilkinson certainly will get some double-team help from center Drew Dalman from time to time.

Wilkinson and the Falcons’ offensive line are coming off a fine showing against the Saints on Sunday in the season opener, but Donald presents his own special challenge.

“He’s a great player,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “Probably one of the more dominant players in the last decade in this league. We have a ton of respect for him, but there’s a challenge every week. That’s what makes it fun. Our guys are excited about the challenge.”

The Falcons didn’t allow a sack and paved the path for 201 rushing yards. That ranked fourth in the NFL with a 77% pass-block win rate and seventh with a 74% run-block win rate in Week 1. The team will need an encore for the Falcons to check Donald from wrecking the entire game.

“The Rams are a very good front, very physical,” Falcons guard Chris Lindstrom told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s going to be a good challenge. The more we can play as a unit, the more we can take from stuff. So take what we learned from the Saints game, good and bad, and try to improve upon it.”

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Atlanta Falcons 2022 NFL schedule

Sept. 11: Saints 27, Falcons 26

Sept. 18 at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.

Sept. 25 at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.

Oct. 2 vs. Cleveland, 1 p.m.

Oct. 9 at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

Oct. 16 vs. San Francisco, 1 p.m.

Oct. 23 at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Oct. 30 vs. Carolina, 1 p.m.

Nov. 6 vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1 p.m.

Nov. 10 at Carolina, 8:15 p.m.

Nov. 20 vs. Chicago, 1 p.m.

Nov. 27 at Washington, 1 p.m.

Dec. 4 vs. Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.


Dec. 18 at New Orleans, TBD

Dec. 24 at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Jan. 1 vs. Arizona, 1 p.m.

Jan. 8 vs. Tampa Bay, TBD