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Rams will have clear training camp plan for Donald

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  • Rams will have clear training camp plan for Donald

    Rams will have clear training camp plan for Donald
    Thursday, Mar 28, 2019 10:25 AM
    Myles Simmons

    Does Aaron Donald really need training camp?

    It’s a fair question since the defensive tackle has won back-to-back AP Defensive Player of the Year awards without being around the team in August. In fact, Donald played only 14 games back in 2017 — missing Week 1 and Week 17 — and was nevertheless named the league’s best defensive player that season.

    But after a year where Donald set a franchise record and a league record for interior linemen with 20.5 sacks, he’s now expected to attend training camp in 2019 — for the first time since Sean McVay took over as head coach.

    So that’s going to be a change for McVay, who said at this week's league meetings that the Rams are going to have to be “smart” about crafting a summer plan for Donald.

    “Aaron’s such a great competitor, but then also he can ruin a practice if you’re trying to have some offensive production,” McVay said Tuesday morning before joking, “But Aaron better be there in training camp.”

    “But we talk about those things all the time,” McVay continued. “We always monitor our players. But specific to a guy like Aaron, who pushes himself — I think it’ll be great to get that work earlier than what he’s gotten the last couple years. And he’s got a specific process that clearly has helped him.”

    “Clearly has helped him” to the tune of 31.5 sacks, 40 tackles for loss, 68 quarterback hits, and nine forced fumbles over the last two regular seasons.

    And yet, McVay said even Donald would note that training camp does serve a purpose, and might even be able to help the famed defensive tackle.

    “I think what he would tell you that’s been really unique just talking to Aaron is, you can’t truly mimic and emulate putting pads on, playing in a game-like setting,” McVay said. “And I think we will take a very similar approach to what we did in the preseason. So I think for us, it’s how can you find a way to create those competitive environments while minimizing the risk of injury. So I don’t think you’ll see him play in the preseason, but we’ll try to create those settings in practice and practice against some different different teams that we play — like what we did with Baltimore. We’ll look to really take advantage of those situations as much as possible.”

    Los Angeles has announced only one preseason date so far — Aug. 17 against the Cowboys in Hawaii. The rest should be announced in the next couple weeks, along with the regular-season schedule.

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  • Nick
    Simmons: Donald Absent as Rams Begin Minicamp
    by Nick
    Donald Absent as Rams Begin Minicamp
    Posted 13 hours ago
    Myles Simmons
    Rams Insider

    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...
    -06-13-2018, 05:07 AM
  • Nick
    As Rams gear up for minicamp, Aaron Donald seems unlikely to suit up
    by Nick
    As Rams gear up for minicamp, Aaron Donald seems unlikely to suit up
    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, 07:03 AM
  • ram3057
    With Aaron Donald still AWOL, rookie Tanzel Smart prepares to start Rams opener
    by ram3057
    By Vincent Bonsignore, Los Angeles Daily News

    POSTED: 09/06/17, 8:59 PM PDT | UPDATED: 5 HRS AGO

    Way back on draft day last April - Day 3, to be exact - and a ways into the sixth round, Tanzel Smart got a call from the Rams telling him he was on his way to Los Angeles to play defensive tackle.

    Not long after, the Tulane University standout said it meant the world to him that he’d soon be playing alongside Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn, a pair of Rams players he’d been admiring from afar.

    Turns out he was half correct - at least for the moment.

    The 6-foot-1, 296-pounder is listed on the Rams depth chart as the starting defensive tackle for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts at the Coliseum. And while he’ll be playing alongside outside linebacker Quinn, he’s actually replacing the All-Pro Donald, who remains AWOL from the club in a contract dispute.

    It’s a dream come true for the 21-year-old Louisiana native, and actually quite the surprise.

    In fact, when he was asked about actually starting his first NFL game as a rookie, Smart seemed a bit taken aback.

    “I don’t know man,” he said. “I don’t know if I’m starting just yet.”

    When someone informed him he was listed at the top of the dept chart at defensive tackle, he just sort of smiled.

    “Oh, I didn’t know that,” he said. “I really didn’t know.”

    If so, let’s just say it’ll complete a dream he’s had nearly his whole life.

    “I’ve dreamed this way, way, way back in elementary school,” he said. “So it’s a blessing.”

    Regardless of whether Smart takes the field as a starter, he’s expected to play a significant role as Donald’s replacement -- presuming Donald doesn’t end his holdout and take the field Sunday, a concept Coach Sean McVay isn’t quite ready to rule out.

    Donald wasn’t with the club Wednesday when it began its first official practice in preparation for the Colts, and according to reports he remains on the East Coast, not in California.

    Still, McVay continues to hold out hope.

    “No, I wouldn’t rule him out,” McVay said. “We’re still in the same place. I know I kind of sound monotonous where, ‘Hey we’re trying to find a solution’, which is exactly the truth. There’s no update right now.”

    Reality is, it’s looking like a longshot the Rams and Donald get things sewn up in time for him to play Sunday. The next man up, then, is Smart, who impressed McVay and his staff while steadily getting better throughout training camp and the preseason.

    “I think Tanzel is one of those players that he’s a natural fit for anything, because all he does is exactly what you want him to do and he continues to get better every single day,” McVay said, crediting the work done by defensive line coach Bill Johnson, defensive quality control coach Thad Bogardus...
    -09-07-2017, 09:24 AM
  • Nick
    As Rams prepare for cuts, McVay ‘definitely optimistic’ that Donald will end holdout
    by Nick
    As Rams prepare for roster cuts, Coach Sean McVay is ‘definitely optimistic’ that Aaron Donald will end holdout
    By RICH HAMMOND | | Orange County Register
    PUBLISHED: August 31, 2017 at 7:05 pm | UPDATED: August 31, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    GREEN BAY, Wisc. — Sean McVay’s focus on Sept. 10 almost has been almost obsessive. The Rams’ coach has seemed like an eager child counting down to the days to his birthday. It’s almost here.

    Much to McVay’s excitement, the preseason ended Thursday night with a 24-10 loss to Green Bay at Lambeau Field, a game filled with backup players, many of whom were fighting for roster spots.

    McVay’s work isn’t done, though. The Rams likely will start making roster cuts Friday, and by 1 p.m. Saturday, they must be down to a 53-man roster, from their current level of 89. Then there’s the big question, as to whether star defensive lineman Aaron Donald will be one of those 53.

    Donald currently is listed on the Rams’ “did not report” list, because he declined to attend training camp while his agent negotiated a new contract with the Rams. Conventional wisdom holds that if Donald doesn’t appear in the next couple days, he won’t be ready for the Sept. 10 season opener.

    So, will it happen?

    “The feeling right now is definitely optimistic,” McVay said after Thursday’s game.

    In fact, McVay used the word “optimistic” four times in eight sentences when asked about Donald, and seemed to be in a good mood when he discussed the topic. That’s in contrast to General Manager Les Snead, who in previous interviews declined to categorize talks as “optimistic” or “pessimistic.”

    Then again, McVay is “optimistic” by nature, and a little more than a month ago, McVay told reporters he was “optimistic” that Donald would report for the start of training camp. Donald never showed up.

    So what (potentially) has changed? Are the Rams and Donald closing in on a new mega-contract?

    “We continue to have a lot of respect for both sides, so we’ll keep those (discussions) in-house,” McVay said, “but I do feel good about where we’re at. We know that there’s progress to be made, but we’re optimistic about the direction that we’re going and the level of urgency that I think both sides have, to try to get Aaron a part of this so that we can have him playing against the Colts.”

    So, when the Rams gather again Friday in Thousand Oaks, McVay will have one eye on Donald’s status and one on the rest of the roster. Thursday’s game didn’t offer many revealing hints, in terms of the Rams’ thoughts on final cuts.

    Justin Davis started the game at running back, which is perhaps a further indication that he has an edge over Aaron Green as the Rams’ third back, behind Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown.

    Nelson Spruce did not play, which cost him a final chance to take himself off the bubble at receiver....
    -09-01-2017, 05:03 AM
  • Nick
    Rams COO hopes Aaron Donald’s deal gets done “sooner than training camp”
    by Nick
    Rams COO hopes Aaron Donald’s deal gets done “sooner than training camp”
    Posted by Charean Williams on June 26, 2018, 6:26 PM EDT

    Who knows where contract talks between the Rams and Aaron Donald stand. After all, the sides have been talking only for a year and a half. (Insert sarcasm.)

    Rams COO and VP Kevin Demoff didn’t give anything away Tuesday during the topping of the team’s new stadium.

    “Well, it will be done before the stadium’s done,” Demoff joked, via Steve Wyche of NFL Media. “Nah, we’re going to keep wishing and hoping. I hope it’s done sooner than training camp, but if it goes to training camp, our goal is to make sure it’s done and that he feels rewarded and that it’s a win-win deal for both sides.”

    Donald skipped organized team activities and the mandatory minicamp as he seeks a deal that is expected to make him the highest-paid defensive player in the league. The defensive tackle likely continues his holdout until he sees a raise over the $6.89 million he is scheduled to make this season.

    In 2017, Donald held out of the offseason program, training camp and the preseason before reporting to the team a day before the Rams’ season opener. He still won defensive player of the year honors.

    “We’re working on it, and we’ll keep pushing forward,” Demoff said. “The dialogue’s been great. It’s been positive. I think [Donald] and coach [Sean] McVay have a terrific relationship. We look forward to getting this done. And putting Aaron in the place where he should be among the highest-paid defensive players.”
    -06-26-2018, 03:31 PM