Rams mailbag: Trumaine Johnson's situation, Greg Robinson's future and Jared Goff's progress

Rams mailbag: Trumaine Johnson's situation, Greg Robinson's future and Jared Goff's progress
Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson received the franchise tag for a second consecutive year. (John Cordes / Associated Press)

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson joined defensive tackle Aaron Donald on the absentee list during the second week of organized team activities.

The Rams have four OTA workouts remaining this week, and they also will hold a mandatory minicamp June 13-15.


Now, on to your questions. Keep them coming at @latimesklein or

No word.

Only one OTA workout per week is open to the media, so we won't know until Monday whether cornerback Trumaine Johnson's absences during the second week were contract related.

Johnson received the franchise tag for the second consecutive year and is scheduled to earn nearly $17 million this season. The Rams have until July 15 to sign Johnson to an extension. Otherwise, he plays under the one-year deal.

General manger Les Snead has said that the Rams would wait until OTAs are complete to decide if Johnson is a "fit" for Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme.

OTAs are voluntary, and Johnson might have a personal situation that precluded him from participating. But if a player wants to establish himself as an integral part of the team — especially with a new coaching staff — it seems like it would serve him well to be there.

Johnson will earn a guaranteed $16,742,400 this season.

As noted above, OTAs are voluntary. And if Johnson has a personal situation that requires attention, criticism about his absence is not warranted.

A longer contract might not pay him that much yearly, but it would probably come with more guaranteed money, a lot more.

The Rams made Johnson available for trade after they put the franchise tag on him but apparently could find no takers or could not work out a deal.

Johnson has said he loves his teammates and is hopeful that his career will continue with the Rams. He, like all players, acknowledges that the NFL is a business, often a cold one.

I would not expect the Rams to "eat" the contract. If you're paying a guy nearly $17 million, you want him on the field.

We'll see how Kayvon Webster and other cornerbacks play this season. But I would expect cornerback to be high on the Rams' priority list in the 2018 draft.

Greg Robinson began OTAs working as the first-team right tackle but appeared to be supplanted last week by Jamon Brown.


Rob Havenstein started at right tackle for two seasons and Brown played both guard spots, so it seems logical that they might return to those positions.

Except this is a new coaching staff.

Sean McVay and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer seem intent at this point on Havenstein playing guard.

Brown played tackle in college at Louisville, so it's not like he's a novice. In McVay/Kromer's scheme, perhaps he's a good fit.

Of course, it's OTAs in May, not training camp in July.

Robinson, the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft, played guard a few games during his rookie season before moving to tackle.

Robinson was benched twice last season and there was talk of him possibly moving to guard.

But McVay has opted to try him at right tackle.

It is difficult to determine if Robinson's lack of progress is due to the player, the coaching or both.

I'm not an oddsmaker, but my sense is that Greg Robinson has better than a 0% chance of making the final roster.

A lot can happen — injuries, for example — that can change the situation for any team.

If Kromer is as accomplished as billed, it seems like he would welcome the challenge of molding Robinson into a productive player.

The media has only been allowed to observe two OTA workouts. Jared Goff looked competent in both and very good at times in the second workout.

I cannot provide you with accurate statistics on the numbers of touchdowns, interceptions and overthrown balls.

From what I have seen, his pocket presence and management have been good. But remember, there is no live contact and no one is wearing pads.

Jared Goff is the starting quarterback and Sean Mannion is the backup.

McVay, like most coaches, is going to publicly profess that there is competition at all positions.

The Rams invested heavily in Goff. He is getting all of the first-team reps. At this point, McVay sees Goff as the quarterback who gives the Rams the best chance to win this year.

Not necessarily.

If Goff suffers an injury and Mannion underperforms, the Rams can make a move then. Or play through the struggles.

The Rams are not projected as a Super Bowl contender and there is no internal pressure on McVay to make the playoffs in his first season.

Goff and Mannion are in their second and third seasons, respectively. They should play and develop, even if it becomes painful to watch.

You make a valid point.

The goal is to win games. And if a collection of receivers can get the job done without a pecking order, that is fantastic.

But ask a receiver — or their agent or a general manager — if a No. 1 receiver label makes a difference when they are negotiating contracts.

As Robert Woods told me when discussing the Washington Redskins and their offense under McVay last season: "They find ways to get receivers the ball and become a No. 1. Or two No. 1s."

Cooper Kupp from Eastern Washington was selected by the Rams in the third round, Josh Reynolds of Texas A&M in the fourth.

Kupp, the all-time receiving leader in the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision, started for four years and appears suited for short and mid-range passes. Reynolds is taller and perhaps more of a deep threat.

From what I have seen in rookie minicamp and OTA workouts, Kupp appears likely to have the more immediate impact. But Reynolds has made some notable plays as well.

The Rams made some slight changes to their uniforms for this season — white horns on the helmets, blue stripe on the pants — but some gold accents will remain on the jerseys.

The Rams planned for a rebrand, including new uniforms, to coincide with a move into their new stadium in 2019. The stadium completion has been delayed until 2020.

The Rams could still opt to go with new uniforms in 2019.

I'm not certain what they will look like. But I do not anticipate even a stitch of gold.

I am going to assume you are referring to the recent NFL draft rather than drafts over time.

It's difficult to assess how newly drafted players will perform as rookies and develop. And as the Rams beat writer I'm pretty fixated on their situation and the teams in their division.

The Rams addressed some of their needs, the Seahawks under Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have a history of drafting well, the Cardinals took care of some defensive needs early and the 49ers had a splashy draft under new coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch.

Outside of the NFC West …

The Cleveland Browns are a long way from winning a Super Bowl, but it was sure fun to watch them trade and utilize their stockpile of picks in this year's draft. And they will have plenty next year as well.


If the talent develops — and if they ever develop a quarterback — one of the most passionate fan bases in sports might eventually be rewarded.

General manager Les Snead survived the firing of Jeff Fisher even though the Rams have not had a winning season during his five-year tenure.

They are 31-48-1 in that time.

But I think it's inaccurate to say the Rams aren't trying to win.

Owner Stan Kroenke's sizable portfolio would get a boost, it seems, if the Rams were annual contenders for the playoffs and the Super Bowl.

I guess it depends on what you define as a "disaster."

A winless season? Players and coaches in trouble off the field?

The Rams are looking for McVay and his staff to make progress. This is a team that won four games last season.

The Rams did not hire a 31-year-old coach with the intent of keeping him around for one season. McVay will have a few years to turn around the franchise's fortunes.

Not the Seahawks.

Probably not the Cardinals.

Perhaps the 49ers, though that's what I thought in 2016 — and the Rams got swept.


Perhaps they are to be used on July 11 of each year, otherwise known as Free Slurpee Day. If a huge crowd descends on a store, the doors could be locked intermittently to control entry.

The late George Plimpton set the standard for that kind of participatory journalism with his book "Paper Lion."

I'm all for giving readers an up-close look at sports and the athletes who play them.

But I'm not eager to be hit by Aaron Donald.

Especially if he's upset about a contract situation.

Thanks for all the great questions. Let's do it again next week.

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein