By Cedric Williams
The story of the summer for the Los Angeles Rams continued into the first official day of the regular season, when standout defensive tackle Aaron Donald did not report for practice on Monday. The Rams’ three-time Pro Bowl selection missed every day of training camp in August, but then continued his hold out for a new contract by also missing the first practice of the regular season, which the club held on Monday.
Los Angeles will host its first game of the regular season on Sunday at the Memorial Coliseum against the Indianapolis Colts. Head coach Sean McVay called Monday “the first day of true preparation” for the season opener, but he has not ruled Donald officially out for Sunday’s contest.
“It’s hard to say,” McVay told a group of reporters over the weekend. “Until we come to a solution, then that’s when I think you have a chance to really put a specific plan in place, out of respect for Aaron and the team. Our mindset right now is if we have to go play a football game, guys are ready to go. And Aaron hasn’t been here as a part of the preparation.”
Things will get tighter and Donald’s chances of playing will only decrease as Sunday approaches, if he continues to no show. Tuesday was the players’ standard day off during a game week. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be the days the team goes over its official game plan for Sunday, with Saturday serving as a walk-through, final preparation day.
Donald, a player who generally stays in good shape and who most consider one of the best defensive players in the league, could probably show up on one of those final days and still play on Sunday. But with an entire season to go and hardly any days of practice (if he were to show at all), asking Donald to play in a real NFL game against real NFL opponents on Sunday might be too much in such a short period of time.
McVay has tried to remain optimistic about the Rams’ chances in their 2017 opener, even if they have to play without their best defensive player.
“The game goes on Sunday at 1 o’clock,” McVay said. “There’s going to be a kickoff and it’s going to be a great opportunity for us to come together as a team and see if we can come away with a ‘W’ against a great opponent.
“Guys are ready to go, and we’re getting a plan in place, and the preparation goes on. Fortunately, we’ve got a bunch of guys that we feel confident in that are ready to step up. Our message continues to remain the same, ‘if he’s here, great. We’ll accept him back with open arms. But in the meantime, we’ve got to get ready to play a football game.’ And we know the Colts are getting ready as well.”
Indianapolis will be without QB Andrew Luck
The Colts will also be without their best player available come Sunday’s kickoff, as veteran quarterback Andrew Luck remains sidelined following offseason shoulder surgery. The club has given no timetable for when the six-year vet from Stanford might return, but he hasn’t even practiced with the team since the week of last season’s regular season finale.
Fellow veteran Scott Tolzien, who has only played in nine games in seven seasons as a pro, will start under center for Indianapolis, with former New England Patriots third-stringer Jacoby Brissett serving as his backup.
Luck originally suffered the injury during Week 3 of the 2015 season, but tried to play through it. Since then, he has missed 10 full games and had to leave several others without finishing after aggravating his shoulder. And without Luck, the Colts have missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.
Rams add new third string QB
After releasing a couple of players with injury settlements over the weekend, the Rams picked up a player on Monday, when the club claimed former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Brandon Allen off waivers.
Allen, who was drafted in the sixth round out of Arkansas in 2016, had been Jacksonville’s No. 3 QB until he was cut by that club on Sunday. He will serve as the Rams’ third string QB behind starter Jared Goff and backup Sean Mannion.