SANTA MONICA – Aaron Donald seems pleased. The star defensive tackle increasingly is a part of the Southern California community, his kids are enjoying swim classes and he has effusive praise for the Rams’ new coaches.
There’s only one sure way to quiet Donald: Ask him about his new contract, or lack thereof.
Donald’s contract with the Rams doesn’t expire until after the 2018 season, but extension negotiations have started. Donald raised some eyebrows in May and June when he skipped a portion of the Rams’ (optional) offseason program due to the contract issue, but he did attend a mandatory mini-camp two weeks ago.
Donald and Rams running back Todd Gurley volunteered on Thursday at a YMCA conditioning camp sponsored by Gatorade. In his first public comments since April, Donald smiled but deflected multiple questions about his contract situation and his mindset regarding it.
“I’m just doing my job and keeping myself how I’m supposed to keep myself, and just let that stuff handle itself,” Donald said at University High. “It’s a fun game, but a serious business at the end of the day.”
Asked about taking care of himself, in the context of the team’s offseason work, Donald grinned and said, “I’ve got two kids.”
Asked later, in a radio interview, if he would confirm whether he will attend the start of Rams training camp next month if he doesn’t have a new contract, Donald gave a brief, general answer about getting ready for the start of the season. Donald’s current deal calls for a base salary of $1.8 million in 2017 and $6.9 million in 2018.
Donald had effusive praise for new Rams coach Sean McVay (a former offensive coordinator) and veteran defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Multiple times he praised McVay’s intelligence and relayed a story from early in the Rams’ offseason program.
“I was itching my head about a play, a defensive play, and he came to me and said, ‘You’ve got to do this, this and this,’” Donald said. “I said, ‘Wow.’ I’ve never had a coach who knew what was going on on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball. He knows every single trick on both sides of the ball. He’s definitely a smart guy. There’s going to be a lot of good things coming.
“Wade is just … everybody knows Wade. I’m excited just to have the opportunity to be around the guy and learn from him.”
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