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Rams

Rams mailbag: New uniforms timeline, Aaron Donald situation, Jared Goff and Rams vs. ... Warriors?

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald remembers Rex Ryan’s jockstrap comments very well
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald might find some extra motivation in a disrespectful comment Buffalo coach Rex Ryan made two years ago.
(Kelvin Kuo / Associated Press)

The Rams completed organized team activity workouts this week and will hold a mandatory minicamp Tuesday through Thursday.

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald did not attend OTAs because of his contract situation. The absence did not cost him money because they were voluntary. Missing all of minicamp would cost him more than $70,000 in fines.

Now, on to your questions. Keep them coming at @latimesklein or gary.klein@latimes.com.

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The Rams had planned for a rebrand and new uniforms to coincide with moving into their new stadium in 2019.

But with the stadium delayed until 2020, those plans could change.

Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ chief operating officer, said last month that a decision about when to introduce new uniforms would be made “in the coming months.”

I would not expect a decision to be made until perhaps the end of the year.

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Aaron Donald did not participate in OTAs. He wants a new contract going into his fourth NFL season. And Rams general manager Les Sneadsaid said the team is attempting to negotiate a new deal.

But this probably won’t get done quickly. J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans went through a similar situation in 2014 after his third season. He did not get a new deal until the eve of the season opener.

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson missed the second week of OTAs because of what he described as a personal situation. He returned on Monday.

Johnson is set to earn nearly $17 million in his second year with the franchise tag. The Rams have until July 15 to sign him to an extension, or he will play on the one-year deal.

The Rams did not wear pads or engage in live contact during OTAs, so it is difficult to accurately assess how the offensive line is performing as a unit.

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No.

It would not be a surprise, though, if Donald attends the mandatory minicamp to avoid a fine.

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There are too many variables to accurately assess the salary cap situation for 2018, especially without knowing if and/or how a Donald deal might be structured.

The Rams also have said linebacker Alec Ogletree is in line for an extension.

Just remember, NFL teams can get creative – and cold – when it comes to making cap room.

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The biggest story with the defensive line, of course, is tackle Aaron Donald’s absence.

But as noted in a previous mailbag, new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is not going to tinker much with a three-time Pro Bowl player, regardless of scheme.

Robert Quinn is getting accustomed to playing from a stand-up position as an outside linebacker at times rather than a three-point stance as a defensive end. But his mission remains essentially the same: Get to the quarterback.

Tackle Michael Brockers looks like he’s still jamming traffic inside and Connor Barwin is transitioning easily into a system he ran under Phillips with the Texans.

Ethan Westbooks, Dominique Easley, Tyrunn Walker, Mike Purcell and rookie Tanzel Smart are among others competing for roles.

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Starting quarterback Jared Goff has looked better than backup Sean Mannion during OTAs, but that, of course, comes with a couple of qualifiers:

Goff has taken all of the first-team reps and his confidence appears to grow with each workout.

Mannion is relegated to working with backups. He also has performed well.

Don’t be fooled by coach Sean McVay’s talk about there being a competition for this particular job. Goff is the starter until he suffers an injury or plays his way out of the position.

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It has been mostly sunny skies in Thousand Oaks during OTAs.

Goff and Mannion have both passed for touchdowns in various drills, but I would not describe it as a storm.

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Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned.

The Rams are one team that saw just how capable Kaepernick can be: In last season’s finale, Kaepernick in the fourth quarter ran for a touchdown, passed for another and then ran for a game-winning two-point conversion in a 22-21 victory.

The Rams have Goff, the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, and Mannion, their third-round pick in 2015. They recently signed Dylan Thompson, but he appears to be more of a camp arm that will probably be released at the end of training camp.

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Receiver Tavon Austin is recovering from surgery on his left wrist, so he did not participate in team drills during OTAs.

He has been on the field and appears to be working hard with a strength and conditioning coach to maintain his fitness. Most of the drills appear to include Austin catching tennis balls.

Austin is expected to be ready for training camp.

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Receiver Nelson Spruce appears fully recovered from the injuries that sidelined him last season.

He is running crisp routes and showing the sure hands that earned him a roster spot as an undrafted free agent last season. On Monday, he Goff connected for a long touchdown.

Spruce will be fighting for a spot. Austin, Robert Woods, Pharoh Cooper, Mike Thomas, Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds are already penciled in.

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Jamon Brown, who played guard his first two seasons with the Rams, displaced Greg Robinson at right tackle during the second week of OTA workouts.

Remember, players do not wear pads and there is no live contact allowed during OTAs. So getting any kind of read on how Brown compares to Robinson is difficult, especially since reporters have only been allowed to view a few workouts.

Robinson acknowledged that he made unspecified mistakes during the first week and was aiming to correct them and compete for the spot. It probably didn’t help that he then was absent from the first workout of the third week because of what McVay described as a personal situation.

McVay sounds encouraged by Brown’s progress.

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Offensive linemen have mostly commented on playing new positions and the influence of new left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

Rob Havenstein moved from right tackle to right guard, Brown moved from guard to right tackle and Robinson moved from left tackle to right tackle.

All have spoken about the differences between their new and former positions. But none have indicated that the system itself is easier or more difficult to learn.

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On a 53-man roster, there is a need for linemen who can play more than one position.

Veteran Rodger Saffold is starting at left guard but he has played tackle and could play either side in a pinch. Andrew Donnal filled in at left tackle last season and did an adequate job. Pace Murphy also can play tackle.

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I do not know all of the particulars of Phillips’ tenures at multiple coaching stops.

But when you’ve been coaching in the NFL since 1976, I’m sure you run into every situation imaginable.

Sometimes, coaches are caught up in the whims of owners. Sometimes, riffs can develop among coaching staffs. Sometimes, a contract expires and another team wants to pay you more money.

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Like McVay, new strength and conditioning coach Ted Rath appears to have injected enthusiasm into the Rams’ facility.

New head coaches routinely talk about changing culture, and new strength coaches are usually trumpeted for bringing new techniques and technology that improve performance.

We’ll have to wait how Rath’s influence plays out, but players appear to be embracing the change.

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Receiver Kupp, a third-round pick from Eastern Washington, has been the most obvious rookie.

Tight end Gerald Everett and receiver Reynolds also have had their moments.

Most rookies at this point are a bit overwhelmed by the transition to the NFL and learning all that comes with that. I would expect to see more rookies stand out during training camp.

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Linebacker Teidrick Smith, who played in college at Mary Hardin-Baylor, made the OTA roster after a tryout during rookie minicamp.

Smith’s best shot at making the regular-season roster — or the practice squad — probably will be through special teams.

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Not sure it’s accurate to say the press asks every new player for positive affirmation about the weather.

Perhaps some reporters do.

My experience is that many players bring it up without being directly asked about it. Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, for example, described the weather in Thousand Oaks as a way of comparing what it was like to play in Buffalo.

For the record, it is sunny, the sky is clear and the temperature is 75 degrees as I answer this question.

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The way Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Co. are playing right now, it would be tough to pick against the Warriors in any sporting format.

Given the relative inexperience of the Rams’ tight ends, it would be also be fun to see how LeBron James of the Cavaliers might fit in McVay’s offense.

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

gary.klein@latimes.com

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein


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