Check out photos from Rams practice prior to their preseason matchup with the Packers.
The Rams will play their final preseason game on Thursday and to this point, defensive tackle Aaron Donald has declined to report to the team.
As he has throughout the process, general manager Les Snead reiterated on Tuesday afternoon that he would keep the details of the team's contract negotiation with Donald private. But there continues to be regular dialogue between the organization and Donald's representatives.
"Where [things] stand right now — hey, Aaron's not here. Obviously, we still want Aaron. We want him to be here as soon as possible," Snead said. "At the end of the day, Aaron Donald's on pace to be a Hall of Famer. Now, we're three years in and Hall of Famers aren't made in three years. But if there's a race to the gold jacket, he's started strong. So anytime you've got that type of player, you definitely want them here short term as well as long term."
That Donald has earned a contract extension has never been in dispute — Snead first brought it up himself during the NFL Combine. The 26-year-old lineman has recorded 28.0 sacks in his first three seasons. He recored 8.0 sacks in 2016, while finishing No. 1 with 31 quarterback hits and tied for the league lead with 17 tackles for loss.
While Snead didn't elaborate, he did say the organization has been looking at many different ways to accomplish both the player and team's goals in a potential contract extension.
"I do know in this situation, we have definitely tried to come up with creative scenarios to get this done," Snead said, adding "it's a unique situation in that you have a player and there is no, per se, finite end date in terms of contract expiring — it's still a ways away."
But because Donald has not yet reported, Snead said it's fair to think about how much he would be able to play against the Colts on Sept. 10 should that not change this week.
"I do think you would have to get him in and at that point, assess where he's at," Snead said. "If we had 60 defensive snaps, [he would] probably not be a 60-snap person. But I do think in that situation, too, and your assessment, if you get him in this week, the goal would be for him to play a lot over the 16-game season. So if you figure out it's best to play a lot less Week 1, then that's the best thing to do."
Snead acknowledged not having Donald certainly would impact the defense, as he's slated to be a significant part of what coordinator Wade Phillips would like to do. Plus, Snead said, the season-ending injury to Dominique Easley depletes some of the depth behind Donald on the defensive line.
"So it's a tough deal," Snead said. "But the nice thing is, Robert Quinn's on pace, so that's going to help. Mark Barron's on pace. Kayvon Webster's on pace. So there are some people who haven't played as much in preseason who will be on pace that will also help us move forward."
"And that's what we have to do," Snead continued. "You've got two things going on — you've got Aaron Donald and the business decision. But you've got, heck, a new coaching staff, a team that's hungry to make progress, hungry to compete, hungry to win — not just show up and play good, but to actually come out on top on that scoreboard. So you're going to figure out a way. And I know this group's, right now, focusing on that."