Check out photos from the first day of offseason workouts for the Los Angeles Rams.
The Rams got their offseason program going on Monday — an event some liken to the first day of school.
And though Los Angeles had nearly all players in attendance for Day 1, there was only one notable absence: Defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Second-year head coach Sean McVay said the absence was expected, given the level of communication between player and team. Donald, of course, did not attend most of last year's offseason program and all of training camp before putting together a season that earned him AP Defensive Player of the Year. During that time, the team and Donald's representation were working toward a contract extension, though it did not get done. Now, negotiations are once again ongoing and Donald has chosen to remain in Pittsburgh where he's been training on his own.
"We totally understand some of the other things that are going on with regards to wanting to get that deal," McVay said. "With respect to Aaron, we feel really good about where we're at with that dialogue. This is a voluntary offseason program with where we're at. You know he's a guy that's going to work hard on his off time and that's kind of where we're at. We feel good about everything that's going on with that."
Check out photos as players arrive for the first day of offseason workouts.
Because McVay and Donald now have a year of experience in working together, the head coach said he feels better about the situation for this offseason program.
"I think the best thing that you have going is now there's been a year of working together, there's a rapport, there's a relationship that's been established and we're in constant dialogue and communication," McVay said. "When this happened last year, we weren't really involved in much communication between myself and Aaron.
"I think you feel good about at least knowing where he's at," McVay continued. "You know he's going to be a guy that's so conscientious, he's working hard, he's doing all those things back at home in Pittsburgh. He's with his family — his little girl just celebrated her fifth birthday. So, at least we have a much better understanding of where we're at. We're proactively continuing to work towards solutions. We've got meetings and things like that set up and we're hopeful that that [contract extension] will eventually come."
Asked if Donald's absence was a potential issue for the team, defensive tackle Michael Brockers said, 'I mean, we've dealt with it before, and we also know that it's a business. You have the best defensive tackle in the league right now going through contract situations.
"I'll kind of just leave it at that," Brockers continued. "I don't really want to talk about if he's here, if he's not here. We obviously know that he's putting in the work to get back in shape, so we're just going to leave it at that."
Donald's work ethic is well documented, which is part of the reason why McVay does not seem to have much anxiety over the defensive tackle's absence.
Unless he's using a potentially dangerous instrument for his training, that is.
"You guys see he's out there doing his thing, he's working hard, spending some time with his family, and hopefully playing with fake knives — not real knives," McVay quipped. "But, it's been a very good dialogue and those negotiations are ongoing. We're just going from there and taking it one day at a time with that."