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  • Simmons: Donald Absent as Rams Begin Minicamp

    Donald Absent as Rams Begin Minicamp
    Posted 13 hours ago
    Myles Simmons
    Rams Insider
    @MylesASimmons

    The Rams’ mandatory minicamp began on Tuesday and there was one notable absence: defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

    Following the day’s practice, head coach Sean McVay said he expected Donald to stay away as the club and the defensive tackle’s representation continue to negotiate a contract extension.

    “When I spoke with him last week, I said, ‘If there’s not a solution to this by next week, will you be here?’ He said, ‘I’m going to stay home, continue training,’” McVay said Tuesday afternoon. "He’s in a good place. Would we want him to be here? Yeah, we’d love to have Aaron here. But it’s kind of the same where it’s been — we’re just focusing on the guys who are here.

    “But we are also are in constant dialogue with Aaron and his group and would like to come to a solution,” McVay continued. “When that’s going to happen, it’s hard to say. But it is something we want to be proactive about pursuing, kind of similar to what we’ve said all along.”

    The potential Donald contract extension has been an ongoing storyline since last season, when Donald elected to remain in his hometown of Pittsburgh for much of the offseason program and all of training camp. Donald was present for last year’s mandatory minicamp, though he only did work on the side. Donald eventually reported to the Rams just before Week 1 last year and played in the Week 2 contest against Washington.

    Nevertheless, Donald was named 2017 AP Defensive Player of the Year after recording — among many gaudy stats — 11.0 sacks and five forced fumbles in 14 games.

    “I think you’d ideally want him to be here, but I think having been through this already, we at least feel comfortable with how to kind of navigate through this situation and this circumstance,” McVay said. “You want him to be here. And we do certainly value what this offseason program entails and the amount of work and the camaraderie that we feel like is established among the teammates that are here. But Aaron has shown that he was able to have a lot of success not taking part in a lot of this last year.

    “That doesn’t mean that we don’t want him here,” McVay added. “But I think there’s at least some comfort in knowing the guys who are here are really working hard. They all respect and appreciate Aaron but we know he’s working back at home as well. But all that being said, we’d love to have our guy ‘99’ here.”

    That stance has been previously reflected from Donald’s teammates. As fellow defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh put it during OTAs, “I don’t think there was a problem last year when he missed, I don’t think there will be a problem really simply because every single roster turns over every single year and you really don’t have your guys until you get into camp. When you get into camp things happen unfortunately and you have to adjust and get with the program however it moves left or right. So I don’t think it will be an issue by any means.”

    There was a post to Twitter earlier on Tuesday of Donald working out at the Pitt facility, continuing what he’s done all offseason. So, as McVay said, though Donald is not with the club in Southern California, he’s still improving his fitness.

    Los Angeles’ minicamp is slated to run through Wednesday, with a special visit to the new Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District on Thursday to conclude the offseason program.


  • #2
    Love AD, but man he needs to get to camp to start working with Suh and the rest of the new defense.
    “Oh, 100 percent,” Donald said. “I feel like the words, ‘Thank you,’ ain’t enough. You’ve got to show it... Instead of saying thank you — show it.”

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    • Nick
      As Rams gear up for minicamp, Aaron Donald seems unlikely to suit up
      Nick
      As Rams gear up for minicamp, Aaron Donald seems unlikely to suit up
      By GARY KLEIN
      JUN 11, 2018 | 4:15 PM

      Players paraded through the Rams’ Thousand Oaks practice facility Monday, taping television and in-game stadium promos and posing for media-guide portraits.

      Aaron Donald was not among them.

      As the Rams prepare for the start of a mandatory minicamp Tuesday, all indications are that Donald, embroiled in a contract dispute that dates to 2017, will not attend.

      Last year, after sitting out organized-team activities, the star defensive tackle attended the mandatory minicamp but did not participate in drills. By attending, he avoided slightly more than $80,000 in fines.

      But this year, the financial penalty probably won’t factor into the decision for the reigning NFL defensive player of the year, a four-year veteran capable of resetting the market for players other than quarterbacks.

      Donald, 27, is scheduled to earn about $6.9 million this season in the final year of his rookie contract.

      Neither the Rams nor Donald’s representatives have commented publicly about his desired salary figure or range. Donald, however, is thought to be seeking a deal that will pay him in excess of $20 million per season. That would not only make him the highest-paid defensive player in history, but would also put him in the company of highly compensated quarterbacks.

      The Rams have leverage: If they don’t eventually come to terms with Donald this season, they could put the franchise tag on him in each of the next two.

      And if Donald does not report to training camp at least 30 days before the Sept. 10 season opener against the Oakland Raiders, he would lose the opportunity to accrue a year toward unrestricted free agency.

      Coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead have said they were in communication with Donald’s agents, but neither side has expressed publicly that they are close to working out a deal.

      McVay said last week he would speak with Donald regarding the minicamp.

      “I know we’ll have an idea based on whether it’s ‘OK, I’m not going to come until there’s a resolution,’ or ‘I will be there,’ ” McVay said.

      Donald is not the only marquee player staying away from an NFL minicamp because of a contract situation.

      The Atlanta Falcons announced Monday that receiver Julio Jones will not participate. Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack, the 2016 NFL defensive player of the year, reportedly also will be absent.

      Donald’s participation in minicamp would help strengthen a remade Rams defense that features new defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.

      But his absence is not regarded as a major distraction for a team that features a majority of players who are familiar with McVay’s offense and defensive coordinator Wade...
      -06-12-2018, 08:03 AM
    • Nick
      Aaron Donald is back at practice, and Rams think he’s ready to start Sunday’s game
      Nick
      Aaron Donald is back at practice, and Rams think he’s ready to start Sunday’s game
      By RICH HAMMOND | rhammond@scng.com | Orange County Register
      PUBLISHED: September 13, 2017 at 6:03 pm | UPDATED: September 13, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      THOUSAND OAKS — Aaron Donald sat at his locker, head down, seemingly resigned to the fact that he’d have to tolerate some good-natured teasing from teammates in the Rams’ locker room Wednesday.

      “Anything for you, A.D.,” Michael Brockers said with a laugh as he stood over Donald and fanned him with a towel. “Hail, Caesar.”

      Donald practiced Wednesday at Cal Lutheran for the first time since he ended his six-week contract holdout last week. The day had no celebratory feel, as Donald jumped into defensive-line drills behind teammates, and all seemed normal even though Donald’s holdout had become a major storyline.

      “I love football,” Donald said, “so being away from it definitely was tough, but (holding out) was a decision I made. The way I chose to handle it was the way I chose to handle it. I’m here now.”

      Donald, arguably the NFL’s most dominant defensive lineman and an Pro Bowl selection in each of his first three seasons, is expected to play Sunday against Washington at the Coliseum, but he stopped short of a full commitment. Thursday is considered a more intense day of practice for the Rams.

      “It depends on how this week goes,” Donald said when asked if he had any concerns about playing. “I felt good today, and we’re going to see (Thursday), wearing the pads. Just going day by day right now.”

      Coach Sean McVay sounded far more certain. McVay had high praise for Donald’s physical conditioning and said the plan not only is for Donald to play against Washington, but to start.

      McVay said he would be mindful of Donald’s absence — he hadn’t practiced since a brief mini-camp in April — as he determined how many snaps Donald might play. McVay said the Rams also would research previous situations in which players held out for an entire training camp.

      “He was exactly like you would expect,” McVay said. “He looked fast, looked fresh, looked like the player that you’ve seen. It didn’t look like he missed a beat. It’s good to have him out there. Great demeanor, and guys were excited to have him back. He was all smiles because he loves football. I was happy, too.”

      The long-term issue hasn’t been resolved. Donald, who is under contract through the 2018 season, still wants a new contract, and the Rams are open to that, but there’s no indication a new deal is close.

      Donald didn’t reveal much Wednesday. He declined to elaborate on why he held out, why he chose to return, whether he might hold out again next year and whether any of the Rams’ contract offers would have made him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. Donald will make $1.8 million this season under his rookie contract, while...
      -09-14-2017, 05:21 AM
    • Nick
      Rams' Aaron Donald gets back to the business of playing
      Nick
      Rams' Aaron Donald gets back to the business of playing
      By Gary Klein

      His holdout because of a contract dispute is over and he is back on the practice field with Rams teammates.

      But “the business side of things,” as defensive lineman Aaron Donald repeatedly described it Wednesday, continues to hover.

      In the meantime, Donald is preparing for Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

      “My main thing is just football,” he said after participating in full-team practice for the first time this season.

      Despite his prolonged absence, which included sitting out the Rams’ season-opening victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Donald is on track to start against Washington, coach Sean McVay said.

      “He looked fast, looked fresh,” McVay said, adding, “Didn’t look like he missed a beat.”

      Donald, who has two seasons remaining on his rookie contract, sat out offseason workouts, attended but did not participate in a mandatory June minicamp and sat out all of training camp because he wants a new deal.

      Donald and his representatives at CAA Sports are believed to be seeking a contract that will make him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player.

      Now that he is on site, the Rams might be more inclined to negotiate the finer points of an extension with the three-time Pro Bowl selection.

      Donald was asked if he had achieved what he wanted through is holdout, whether the Rams had made him an offer that would make him the league’s highest-paid defensive player, and whether he was close to a deal.

      Donald, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with CAA Sports across the front, responded to each question by saying that he would let his agents handle it.

      “I love football, so being away from it definitely was tough,” he said, adding, “The way I chose to handle it is the way I chose to handle it and I’m here now.”

      Donald worked out in Pittsburgh the last few months and said he was in “great shape.” He acknowledged, however, that it was not the same as playing football.

      “So, just going day by day here and just seeing how I feel as the week goes on,” he said.

      Donald played in a 4-3 scheme during his first three NFL seasons. New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has installed a 3-4.

      Not a problem, Donald said.

      “I don’t feel like I’m behind or anything as far as knowing the plays,” he said. “I might mess up here and there, but when I was out there … I felt pretty solid.”

      Throughout Donald’s holdout, teammates supported him and said they looked forward to welcoming him back.

      Donald was in team and position group meetings Monday. But Wednesday was the first full practice since his return.

      “It’s nice seeing him across the line of scrimmage again, making practice hard for us again,” quarterback Jared Goff said.

      ...
      -09-14-2017, 05:23 AM
    • Nick
      Rams DT Aaron Donald downplays absence of long-term deal
      Nick
      Rams DT Aaron Donald downplays absence of long-term deal
      10:38 PM ET
      Alden Gonzalez
      ESPN Staff Writer

      THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Aaron Donald held out as long as he possibly could without missing a game check. He showed up Saturday, joined his Los Angeles Rams teammates for film sessions Monday and went through a full practice for the first time Wednesday.

      But the defensive tackle still hasn't agreed on a long-term contract.

      "Just business," Donald said, dismissing the notion of possible animosity with the Rams' front office. "That's all."

      Donald, speaking to the media Wednesday for the first time since beginning and ending his holdout, said he worked out "a lot" at his alma mater of Pittsburgh over the summer. He claimed to be in "great shape," but admitted that "it's different from being on the football field."

      Rams quarterback Jared Goff said Donald was already "making practice hard for us again." First-year head coach Sean McVay described Donald as looking "exactly like you would expect."

      "Looked fast, looked fresh, looked like the player that you've seen; didn't look like he missed a beat," McVay said, a day before the Rams practice in pads. "It was good to have him back out there. Great demeanor, guys were excited to have him back. He was all smiles because he loves football."

      Donald's holdout lasted 43 whole days. He was fined somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.4 million. But the Rams waived that, then received an exemption to place Donald on the active roster for their Week 1 opener to ensure that he received his first game check, totaling about $106,000.

      Donald didn't go into detail about his holdout.

      "Just trying to handle the business side of things," Donald said, while wearing a CAA T-shirt that depicted the agency that represents him. "It was a decision I made, with my family and the guys that were helping me around me. My main focus is I'm back now, and just doing what I gotta do."

      Even without Donald, the Rams walloped the Indianapolis Colts at home 46-9 on Sunday. Their offense looked good, but it was their defense that shined brightest, returning two touchdowns for interceptions, recovering a fumble, causing a safety and registering four sacks.

      "They dominated," Donald said. "They did great."

      McVay expects Donald to start in Sunday's home game against the Redskins, but the rest of this week will dictate how many snaps he ends up playing. Donald also missed the three weeks of organized team activities during the spring, but he was there for the voluntary minicamp in late April and the mandatory minicamp in the middle of June. He picked up Wade Phillips' system then and said he is "not behind or anything as far as knowing the plays."...
      -09-14-2017, 05:21 AM
    • ram3057
      It’s back to normal for the Rams and Aaron Donald, who likely will play Sunday
      ram3057
      By Rich Hammond,

      POSTED: 09/11/17, 9:56 PM PDT | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO



      THOUSAND OAKS >> No dramatic moment, no speech, no loud applause. The Rams simply conducted their defensive meetings Monday with Aaron Donald in attendance, and that normalcy had to feel superb.

      Donald, the Rams’ star lineman who ended his six-week contract holdout Saturday, got back to work at team headquarters. The plan, according to Coach Sean McVay, is for Donald to be on the field when the Rams resume practice Wednesday and when they play Washington on Sunday at the Coliseum.

      “We went about the team meeting like we normally would,” McVay said Monday. “Didn’t want to make a big deal about that. That’s the one thing you respect so much about Aaron. He wants to just come back in here. He doesn’t want to be a distraction at all. That was the first thing he mentioned himself.”

      If nothing else, McVay and the Rams can stop answering questions about Donald, who is under contract through the 2018 season but missed all of training camp, and Sunday’s season-opening victory over Indianapolis, as his agent attempted to negotiate a new deal with the Rams.

      That didn’t get done, but Donald showed up anyway, no doubt to avoid the loss of a $100,000 first-week paycheck, plus bonus money. Given that Donald is a dominant defender and is known for his fierce workouts, it’s difficult to imagine that Donald won’t play at least a part-time role against Washington.

      McVay said he will talk throughout the week with Donald and head trainer Reggie Scott in order the gauge how Donald is coming along. Donald last practiced with the team in late April, during a mini-camp.

      “The plan is to get him going,” McVay said, “just back into the flow of a normal weekly rhythm, like all of our players do. He’s back here with us now, and we’re looking to get him going.”

      The Rams dominated an injury-weakened Indianapolis team, as they returned two interceptions for touchdowns and recorded a safety and four sacks in a 46-9 victory. The addition of Donald, a Pro Bowl selection in each of his first three NFL seasons, will make that unit even stronger.

      And while Donald’s contract issue remains unresolved, the Rams on Monday took two small steps that could help. They signed punter Johnny Hekker to a two-year contract extension and defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks to a new two-year contract.

      Hekker added two years and $9.6 million to his contract and now won’t be a free agent until 2022. Hekker’s newly structured contract contains $10 million in guaranteed money, the most ever for an NFL punter. Westbrooks’ restructured deal will take him through the 2018 season at a total of $3 million.

      The moves not only keep two contributors in the fold — and, in Hekker’s case, the NFL’s best punter — but they allow the Rams to further stabilize their salary-cap structure...
      -09-12-2017, 10:45 AM
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