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First-half reflections and midseason awards

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Most Valuable Player – Aaron Donald, DT

He put together another four-sack performance in a win at Washington. He's the top-rated defender in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. And he's coming off a career-high grade against Miami.

But just as he wrecks game plans, Aaron Donald also spoils the fun of awards season. So let's give him the top honor then exclude him from the rest of this column, so that others may participate.

Here are the rest of the Rams 2020 POTFHs (Players of the First Half).

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Defensive – Jalen Ramsey, CB

His coverage skills speak for themselves. How about his hits?

Amari Cooper felt his presence in the opener. Kyle Allen was knocked out of the contest in Washington. Golden Tate got his serving at SoFi Stadium. And against the Bears, Javon Wims' progress was suspended short of the line to gain.

Honorable Mention: Darious Williams has more than held his own across the field as opponents shy away from Ramsey. Where would L.A. be without his diving interception at Philadelphia or equally sensational game-clinching pick versus New York?

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Offensive – Andrew Whitworth, LT

38-years-young and playing some of the best downs of his career.

If the offensive line took the fall for the Rams 2019 regression, then their marked improvement has to be the offensive story of the first eight games. Whitworth is the driving force behind it all, as the whole room (and team) takes its cue from him.

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Special Teams – Johnny Hekker, P

The lone bright spot in the third phase, thank goodness for all the watermelons Hekker has planted inside the opposing 10-yard line.

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Most Improved – Austin Corbett, G and Darrell Henderson, RB

Hate to split the vote, but these two go hand-in-hand, anyway.

As the highest-drafted lineman on the roster, Corbett is proving to be a "steal" relative to the fifth-round selection the Rams sent to Cleveland for his services. Aaron Kromer and Sean McVay have turned his career around, and likewise, he's stabilized a tumultuous right guard position for L.A.

Meantime, Henderson saw the Rams use their top pick in this Draft on Cam Akers and effectively said, "Not on my watch." Refusing to cede reps as the number one running back in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus, Henderson has helped this offense thrive despite moving on from Todd Gurley, to the point they've become the most efficient running game in the NFL.

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Rookie – Jordan Fuller, S

It speaks volumes about the impact that Fuller's had that he takes this honor handily, despite missing essentially five full games (he only played the first eight snaps at Buffalo).

The breakout star of training camp has become a starter the Rams can't wait to get back from the injured list after the break.

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Comeback – John Johnson, S

Our friend and colleague Kirk Morrison was sharp to pick to Johnson as his defensive POTFH on this week's Between the Horns. It's bittersweet to see this fan favorite return from a 2019-ending shoulder injury with a great first half, only because of the fear he'll price himself out of next year's roster given the skyrocketing values of high-end safeties.

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