Linebacker Mark Barron is among injured Rams players in need of a day off Sunday in the regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers.
Others, such as four-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Aaron Donald, are healthy but will be held out anyway because coach Sean McVay wants players rested and ready for next week’s NFC playoff game at the Coliseum.
“I’d rather play, but it’s for a good reason,” Donald said Friday.
Donald did not participate in offseason workouts or training camp because of a still-unresolved contract dispute. He reported before the season opener but did not play.
He has since amassed 11 sacks and has been injury free.
Donald unsuccessfully lobbied McVay to play against the 49ers.
“I was just trying to tell him that I feel good — healthy — like I missed a lot of football already,” Donald said. “But he wasn’t hearing it.”
Donald’s performance has put him in the conversation for the NFL defensive player of the year award. Sitting out the final game will cost him the opportunity to accumulate more sacks.
“I ain’t really trippin’ about it,” he said. “I missed enough football, so I didn’t really want to miss another game but, like I said, it’s what Coach wanted to do, and I’m with him 100% because whatever he been giving us so far has been working.”
Donald, who is earning $1.8 million this season, said his absence from training camp enabled him to avoid the “aches and pains” suffered by teammates while staying in top shape before reporting.
“Came back and knocked the rust off and was healthy,” he said.
The Rams and Donald’s representatives are expected to resume talks about an extension after the season. Donald is scheduled to earn about $6.9 million in 2018, but is in line for a contract that would make him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player.
Asked if he would miss training camp again to ensure that he is healthy for next season, Donald said, “I ain’t going to do it again.”
Then he quickly added, “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I hope I don’t got to do it again.”
Barron’s availability for the playoffs is in doubt because of what McVay has described as an Achilles injury suffered before last week’s game at Tennessee.
“When something like this creeps up it definitely concerns you because you don’t really know — is he going to be available? Is he not? It’s really all predicated on how he feels that day,” McVay said.
Barron sat out the last two games at Seattle and Nashville, where the temperature and wind made for chilly conditions.
The Rams will play host to an undetermined opponent next Saturday or Sunday at the Coliseum. Warm Southland temperatures would apparently work in Barron’s favor, McVay said.
“Expecting the weather to continue to stay nice and that’s when Mark has felt good,” McVay said. “So, if that does affect it at all, then you feel positive about that.”
Cody Davis returns
Safety Cody Davis is off injured reserve and will play for the first time since suffering a Week 7 thigh injury.
“He’s looked good this week, expect to get him out there and looking forward to having Cody back,” McVay said.
Davis, a fifth-year pro, started twice and had 19 tackles before he was injured. He is looking forward to playing Sunday and in the playoffs.
“It’s great to have this game as a tune-up game, especially for me,” he said. “Everyone has a different reason to look forward to this game, and that’s mine.