Game Time Is Here. But Who’s Betting On Aaron Donald Joining The Party?

At last, September is upon us, and that can only mean one thing. Forget training camp, forget preseason, forget contracts – it is time to get down to the serious business of the regular season.

At least, that would usually be the situation. But when the man widely regarded as the best defensive player, not only in the Rams but in the entire NFL, remains “out east,” holding out for a new deal, it is inevitable that the talk is still on when he will put pen to paper and join up with the rest of the team.

McVay optimistic

Sean McVay says Aaron Donald will be returning soon, but the fact that the star defensive tackle is still in Pittsburgh, some five hours flight from LA, suggests that it will not be soon enough to participate in the week one match up against the Colts.

The Head Coach’s optimism remains undiminished that Donald will be joining up with the team before the regular season gets underway, at least in public. However, behind the bravado, he must have growing doubts as the clock counts down.

Make or break

There is a general consensus among even the most impartial commentators that the Rams have a realistic shot at making the playoffs this year, after their disappointing return of 4-12 in 2016. However, despite the depth in talent within the defensive line, it would be disingenuous to suggest that Donald’s absence will not have an effect.

It is not just the fact that he is “in his own world,” to use the words of nose tackle Michael Brockers, or that he has been a shoe in for every pro bowl since he made the step up to the NFL. Like every great player, he also brings a sense of belief that helps the entire team raise its game.

The NFL betting perspective

On paper, the Rams are generally considered warm favorites over the Colts for the week one match up, but as the big day approaches, how is Donald’s absence likely to affect their chances? With the increase in NFL betting in the UK, a great way to find out is to take a look online at one of the many UK sports betting sites.

The prevalent view is that the Rams are still seen to have the edge, with odds in the order of 10/19 being offered for a win. You can currently pick up around 8/5 on a Colts victory.

Why the dispute?

So how have we ended up in this unedifying situation? When it comes down to it, Donald has had a meteoric rise to fame and is being vastly underpaid. This might sound churlish given that the guy is set to earn just under $2 million in 2017 and almost $7 million in 2018, but that is well short of his market value.

Ultimately, the saga has run longer than it should and is doing Donald, the Rams and the entire NFL no favors.

HOF RB Eric Dickerson to Ink One-Day Deal and Retire with the Rams

The Rams announced on Tuesday, the Rams will sign Eric Dickerson to a one-day contract so that he can officially retire with the organization, Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times reports.

“While Eric has always been a member of the Rams family, we believe that it was time to officially cement his legacy as a member of the Los Angeles Rams, as his accomplishments and contributions to our franchise deserve to be celebrated and remembered forever,” Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ chief operating officer, said in a statement.

Dickerson played his first four-plus NFL seasons with the Rams before he was traded the Indianapolis Colts. He also played for the Los Angeles Raiders before finishing his career with the Atlanta Falcons.

“It feels amazing to sign this contract and officially be a Los Angeles Ram for life,” Dickerson said in a statement. “My passion for this organization during my playing days and for the players wearing Rams jerseys now, is undeniable.

“This is where my career started and this is where my heart is, so closing this chapter with the Rams back in Los Angeles feels right.”

Former Rams Coach Mike Martz Denies Making Harsh Comments Regarding Sean McVay

AP Photos

Former NFL coach Mike Martz denied making harsh comments attributed to him in an upcoming book about whether rookie coach Sean McVay is capable of having an impact on second-year Rams quarterback Jared Goff, ESPN reports.

In the book “Blitzed: Why NFL Teams Gamble on Starting Rookie Quarterbacks,” due out in September, Martz was asked whether McVay can make a difference with Goff. Goff appeared in seven games last season under veteran coach Jeff Fisher. An excerpt was obtained by ESPN.

“What is he, a couple of months older than Jared? They hired a buddy for Jared,” Martz was quoted as saying in the book. “The NFL has nothing to do with being the friend or the buddy of the quarterback. You’ve got to coach them and work them hard with respect. But buddy? And this guy is a quarterback expert? An offensive expert? Wait a minute while I puke.”

McVay was hired at the end of last season just before he turned 31, making him the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. Goff will turn 23 in October.

In an interview Tuesday on ESPN LA 710, Martz said the quote in its entirety was “not accurate.”

“I would never say something like that. [The quote] was kind of embellished. It was a very short interview, and I think what I told [author Thomas George] was there’s only a couple years’ difference between them, and they probably brought him in because of his ability to communicate. With [Goff], you want somebody more his age, I guess. But all of that other garbage, I would never say something like that.”

Rams QB Jared Goff Gets Surprise Heli Ride Over Future Football Stadium

L.A. Rams QB Jared Goff had yet to set eyes on the Inglewood, Calif. spot where a new stadium is being built for the team – until now. Actor and director Michael Rapaport swooped in on a startled Goff while at a workout session, and proceeded to take him on a stunning aerial tour of LA that also included an eye-opening journey over fellow quarterback Tom Brady’s place.

“That’s where we’re going to be chilling, man,” Rappaport said to Goff. “It’s you, me…we kick Tom Brady out.”

There were also a few scary moments for Goff, who had this to say to the heli operator:

“I feel like we’re going to hit these rocks.”

“I need you to get off your phone.”

“Going a little low over this mountain here, my guy.”

After a comedic view of Rapaport’s house, the unexpected expedition ended with a birds-eye view of the new $2.6 billion stadium that will be completed in time for the 2020 NFL season.

“This is my first time seeing it,” Goff told redbull.com. “This might be the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”

Rams DT Aaron Donald Not Feeling Good About Holdout Says Teammate Michael Brockers

(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is holding out of camp for a new contract but it doesn’t mean he’s feeling good about it, Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register reports.

“Oh yeah, it’s killing him right now,” fellow defensive lineman Michael Brockers said after Sunday’s camp practice at UC Irvine. “I know it is. He cannot wait until this contract thing is over. … You text him just to check in, and he lets us know that he’s still working and stuff like that. We know he’s not letting off in any way. We know he’s going to come back in shape and be the same Aaron he was before.”

Coach Sean McVay has emphasized this week that the Rams are working to get a deal done with Donald and that, while he’s out, other defensive linemen are improving. That’s true, but none of them are Donald.

There’s no replacing a three-time Pro Bowl selection who has 28 sacks in 48 NFL games. In the Rams’ new 3-4 scheme, Dominique Easley and Ethan Westbrooks have been lining up alongside Brockers, but as the Aug. 12 preseason opener draws near, Donald isn’t getting repetitions in the new defense.

At some point, the Rams need Donald, as they need to learn how to work around the defense’s most dominant force. But the Rams seem convinced that when Donald does return, it will be a seamless fit.

“Mostly you miss his personality, having him around,” Brockers said. “You know what he’s going to do on the field, so you know what you’re getting when he gets back. You just miss his personality during some of these hard practices, where he might make a joke or jump on your back, something to pick us up. That’s what people don’t realize. He brings a lot of personality to the defensive line as well.”

Teammates have been supportive of Donald’s absence. A fan brought a sign to practice with a picture of Donald and the words “pay the man,” and linebacker Robert Quinn signed it.

Brockers is no stranger to this. Last September, a week into the season, Brockers signed a three-year, $33.1 million contract. Brockers had entered the final year of his contract, and while Donald still has two years remaining on his current deal, Brockers said teammates want to see Donald get paid.

“It’s hard to not do that when a guy has put in so much work,” Brockers said. “He has worked so hard and been tremendous for this team. It’s hard not to want that for him. So yeah, we’re right with him and we support him. We’re just waiting for him to get back.”

Rams QB Jared Goff Adds 10 Pounds to His Frame This Offseason

Rams quarterback Jared Goff likes to say that he has gained 10 pounds for every year of his life. Heading into his second season in the NFL, the 22-year-old is carrying about 220 pounds on him — 10 more than he did as a rookie, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports.

“I hope it slows down at about 23, 24,” Goff said with a smile. “I think I’ve been doing a good job just trying to continue to get strong and just continue to work as hard as I can.”

The Los Angeles Rams’ official website lists Goff at 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds after listing him at 215 last year. After entering the NFL with a relatively slight frame, Goff absorbed 25 sacks over his final six games — far more than anybody else during that stretch — and bulked up. Goff said the added weight was merely a byproduct of his continued physical growth, not a reaction to anything that occurred last season. Still, the extra pounds should only help.

Goff remembers the extra weight he put on entering his sophomore season at Cal, and how much better it made him.

“I felt it in the pocket,” Goff said, speaking after the Rams’ minicamp practice on Tuesday. “The ability to make one guy miss is a big deal, and the ability to not get tackled by just a hand, just a guy grabbing your jersey, is a big deal. I think that’s where it helped the most.”

“It’s always important to be able to sustain some of the hits,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “You still want to make sure that you’re fluid and flexible. I think that weight, when you’re thinking about some of the throws that you have to make in the face of a pass rush, and where you have to absorb those hits — I think it just allows you to be a little bit sturdier. I think you want to put it on the right way.”

Rams DT Aaron Donald Reports to Mandatory Minicamp Despite No New Deal

Aaron Donald does not yet have a new contract, but the defensive tackle is no longer staying away from the Los Angeles Rams’ facility, Kevin Patra of NFL.com reports.

NFL Network’s Steve Wyche reported Tuesday that Donald reported for mandatory minicamp, according to a team spokesman.

Donald has stayed away from voluntary offseason workouts before this week.

NFL Network’s Omar Ruiz, who is in attendance at Rams practice, reported Donald is doing individual work off to the side.

Donald is set to earn just $1.8 million in 2017 under his rookie contract. The Rams exercised the fifth-year team option to keep him in L.A. in 2018. Both sides hope a deal is done well before then.

General manager Les Snead has consistently said this offseason that Donald deserves a hefty raise. Snead said in May contract talks are in a “serious” stage.

Rams CB Troy Hill Handed Two-Game Suspension for Violating the NFL’s Substance Abuse Policy

Rams backup cornerback Troy Hill has been suspended without pay for the first two games of the 2017 regular season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports.

Hill won’t be eligible to return to the active roster until Sept. 18, following the Rams’ Week 2 home game against the Washington Redskins. But he can participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games until then.

That suspension probably stems from Hill’s DUI arrest the Saturday morning before the Rams’ Nov. 20 home game against the Miami Dolphins. The Rams made him inactive for that game, then later stashed him on their practice squad and didn’t activate him again until the middle of December.

During the incident, Hill was driving on an L.A. freeway at around 8 a.m. PT when his Mercedes swerved over multiple lanes and crashed into the back of a semi truck. Hill, who suffered a busted lip during the crash, was given a field sobriety test and arrested on the spot.

An undrafted free agent in 2015, Hill initially signed with the Bengals and played in spurts for the Rams last season, starting four games.