Rams General Manager Les Snead, Head Coach Sean McVay Training Camp Press Conference – July 28, 2017
Snead: "Look, I think I will open with this, today is no different than yesterday, not any different than this summer, not any different than this spring – (DT) Aaron (Donald) is a priority. The goal is still the same, make Aaron a Ram for a long, long time, so that didn't change at all. I definitely respect Aaron as a human, respect the process. I will let (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) get into this – I do know that Indy is still going to come to town, they are going to keep score, they will post standings the next day and we have got – just as Aaron is a priority, there are 89 other guys here that are a priority as well. Sean and those guys are going to work to get those guys ready for Indy."
McVay: "Yeah, a lot of the same. He is a great player. We knew that this was a potential possibility for us and we are constantly going through, trying to get a solution to this. But in the meantime, training camp starts tomorrow. We have 90 guys or 89 guys that will be ready to go and we are not going to allow this to set us back as our preparation moving towards the Dallas preseason game and leading into the regular season. Just like anything else, I love him, he is a great player, I think his resume speaks for itself. But in the NFL, whatever it is, adversity is inevitable and we have to be ready to handle that as a team and we will move forward accordingly." * *
(On if this was a surprise)
Snead: "Like I told you yesterday, I don't want to get into whether we were optimistic or pessimistic. I do realize that these are always complicated, so I am not going to say that it wasn't. It wasn't shocking or a surprise – you knew that there was a chance that it could occur. You also knew that and were hopeful that we work things out soon, but we didn't."* *
(On if they have spoken to Donald's representatives today and have they given the Rams any indication how long he may not be at camp)
Snead: "Spoken to him today and I think that right now the focus again is getting a contract done, so that Aaron is a Ram for a long time. I am not necessarily talking about the timeline of when he shows up or not."* *
(On how concerned they are about the effect that this could have on preparation and the overall vibe amongst the players)
McVay: "Unfortunately he wasn't there for a large part of the offseason program, so this is something that – kind of missing the OTAs and things like, we have been accustomed to this. He took part in the minicamp in just the walk-thru setting. Really, our plans moving forward like Les said, we are proactively pursuing to try and come to a solution because of how important Aaron is to us. But there are plenty of guys that we feel give us a chance to compete and win football games on our D-line and fortunately that is a position that we do feel like we have got some depth at. (DT) Dominque Easley had a great spring. He is a guy that will get an opportunity to play a lot more with Aaron not being there, (DL) Ethan Westbrooks, so some guys that have done some different things that I know will get a chance to get more reps in practice than they would if Aaron were here."
(On if the talks are resting or ongoing)
Snead: "Just like you said, respect Aaron, respect his agents working through this. We have said all along, let's try not to get into specific details. But stick to the mantra, it is a goal to make Aaron a Ram for a long time."
(On how Donald's absence prompts more motivation than before to come to a contract agreement)
Snead:"Like I said, today is no different than yesterday or the spring. As Sean said, Aaron's plays speaks for itself that's the reason we want to make him a Ram a long time. So, today doesn't change that urgency at all."
(On whether he thinks Donald sitting out is hard on him)
Snead:"I do know Aaron Donald relativity well. I bet yes, when the calendar or the clock strikes training camp time, he'd love to be on the grass. But again like I said earlier. Respect him, respect the process that we're going through."
(On why they called the press conference today rather than waiting until the first day of training camp practice tomorrow)
McVay:"Well, we wanted to be proactive about addressing this situation because we knew these would be questions. I think with respect to Aaron and this situation tomorrow is about training camp and us getting the things started off the right way. 'Would we love him to be here?' Absolutely. But like we said, we've got 89 guys. I think when there's a player of his caliber that's not present it is something that needs to be addressed and talked about. But we don't want it to affect our ability to move forward as a team, because this is a great team sport and I think that's really the reason we just want to be pro-active about it."
(On how he thinks the players are handling the situation)
McVay:"Well, I would say this. I know his teammates have a whole lot of respect for him with the way that he competes, what he's about. You know, like you mentioned he loves the game of football. He's what represents what's right about this game in terms of those top tier players like he is. I know that they would him to be around, but there are business elements to these things that take place that have some nuisances to them. I think his teammates respect and understand that the organization and the player, it's about us coming to a solution. But I don't think it's going to affect their ability to perform and do things tomorrow. While they want him to be out there, they've got a job to do and I think that's their mindset."
(On whether he's going to specifically address the team on this situation tomorrow)
McVay:"Yeah, we've already done that. That was one of the first things. You know, I think anytime you've got a player like him, a captain, an important part of what we're trying to do you want to be able to address it right away and that's what we did. It wasn't like the players didn't know what was going on. So you want to at least address it and then be able to move forward accordingly."
(On if he has some sense of how behind Donald is as a result of the time missed and inconsideration of the new defense being installed this year)
McVay:"I think with the offseason program, you know him and missing some of those OTAs, but then coming back in minicamp one of the things you do appreciate about Aaron is he loves football. There's ways that he can stay up with it based on some of the technology that we have. So, he understands kind of his roles and responsibilities within the framework of the defense. But there's no substitution for getting those physical reps in. That's why this time of year is important to us. But, he is a type of guy that you know he's going to stay up from a mental standpoint. He's one of the few guys that you feel like will be able to make a smooth transition to whatever system just because of the caliber player he is."
(On the pressure to get Aaron Donald to training camp)
Snead:"I mentioned it earlier, today is no different than yesterday or last week. We want Aaron to be a Ram for a long time, for all the reasons you just mentioned. I think we also said too, there's 52 other guys, 89 other guys who are going to help us win ball games too, so I don't think you treat any guy any different because you respect what each one of those men go through to play this game. That one's not going to change, no matter what level you are or where you are on the depth chart, because each one of those guys are special."* *
(On the possibility of striking a deal in the last 24 hours to get DT Aaron Donald to training camp)
Snead:"I told the guys earlier, never get into optimism or pessimism, but he's been a priority and obviously in these situations both sides are working and you're working hard to try to get something done."* *
(On talking today with Donald's representation)
Snead:"I'll keep the details in-house, but the obvious answer is yes. Any time you're dealing with this, you don't go a few days without discussing the matter."
(On how much ground needs to be made up to make a deal)
Snead:"Again, I'm going to keep the details. We respect Aaron a lot. What you said are variables, but I think we've seen it the last few years, especially with the new rookie bargaining agreement (Collective Bargaining Agreement). Teams like us and other teams are having to deal with these situations and we're trying to deal with them and we want to deal with them because, like we said, we feel like Aaron has earned the right to be a Ram a long time and be paid a little more."
(On if everybody else made it in)
(On players listed on the Physically Unable to Perform list)
McVay:"Those are just some things with regards to little nuances with the physicals. It's not going to hold them up. There are certain things that we ask our players to be ready to do when they come in and report and those were the reasons. There's no injury or anything like that and our anticipation is they will be ready to practice tomorrow."