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The Rams had to reduce their roster to 53 players on Saturday, and one name remains notably absent from the list.
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald was placed on the reserve/did not report list Saturday, as the Rams and his representation continue to negotiate a contract extension.
Head coach Sean McVay reiterated that discussions are ongoing, and that he remains optimistic that Donald will report sooner than later.
"I'm always going to maintain that positive approach," McVay said Saturday afternoon. "I know that our guys are working relentlessly to try to come to this solution. And like we said, the level of urgency is certainly raised as we get closer and closer to our first regular-season game. But right now, there's no update — kind of still where we're at."
McVay, however, did reveal that he's been in touch with Donald, having a few conversations that have been strictly about football.
"Aaron and I's discussions have been exclusive to player-coach relationship types of things — what he's missed out on, how much we can't wait to get him back here," McVay said. "And that's what you want it to be. And that where I think it's helpful and healthy for my role to be."
"He's a guy that I've enjoyed talking to," McVay later added. "And I'll enjoy it a lot more when I see him in person."
When Donald does report, Los Angeles will go through a deliberate process to ensure he's in the best position possible to excel. McVay said he knows Donald is taking good care of himself and staying in shape, but there's no substitute for practice and game reps. So the club plans on coming up with a course of action in conjunction with head trainer Reggie Scott and head strength and conditioning coach Ted Rath.
"If there's anybody that you feel like can try to mimic and emulate those things when he's working out on his now, Aaron's one of those guys," McVay said. "But we do definitely want to be aware of getting him back and being smart about it, while knowing that if we do get it solved and come to a solution, he's one of our best players. Want to have him out there with his teammates, but not at the expense of not having a smart plan in place to where you rush him back and then it results in not having him for a couple weeks."
Still, there's no clear timeline of when Donald will report, which means McVay has a strategy should Donald not report in time to play on Sept. 10 against the Colts.
"I think you always have to have those plans in place," McVay said. "But I think what I would say that's been such a breath of fresh air with our team and our players that have been here is while they want Aaron back, they haven't allowed it to be a distraction for what they want to get done.
"Guys are getting reps at the spot that you kind of project Aaron right now," McVay continued. "So I know that if that's the case, they'll be ready to go against Indianapolis. And we've got confidence in those guys to step up."
But the Rams will continue to work to find a solution in order to have Donald back and on the field as soon as possible.
"We want him here, and we want him to be a part of this," McVay said. "I think with what these players have started to create — I think it would be special to have Aaron be a part of that because of what we've talked about and some of the things that we want our players to represent, and the way they go about their daily work. Everything that I've heard, and then the short exposure I've had to Aaron, he kind of personifies what we're looking for.
"And I think the players have a huge amount of respect for him," McVay continued. "We already know the production that he's had — that kind of speaks for itself. That's why he's an important part of what we're trying to do. We're going to try to come to a solution and a conclusion to this."