The season opener is about two weeks away and the Rams have yet to get a deal done with one of their top defensive players.
That high-profile contract dispute continues to play out, but the Rams and middle linebacker Alec Ogletree also appear to be at a standstill.
Rams executives have said for more than a year that they wanted to extend young players that form their nucleus and have evolved into leaders.
Ogletree, a first-round pick in 2013, is scheduled to earn about $8.4 million this season in the fifth and final year of his rookie contract.
Upon his arrival at training camp a few weeks ago, Ogletree sounded confident that a new agreement would be reached.
“It’s in the works,” he said. “When it happens it happens.”
On Thursday, he appeared to hedge.
“If the deal gets done, it gets done, whenever that happens,” he said.
Donald, with two years remaining on his contract, opted not to report to training camp. There is no indication that his arrival is imminent.
If Ogletree does not sign a new contract, he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Essentially, he said, he is “on a one-year deal” unless an agreement is reached.
“Play this season, see how it goes,” he said, “and if we get a deal done before then great.
“If not, we’ll take it from there. I’m just focusing on one thing at time: getting ready for this season, Game 1, and the rest will take care of itself.”
Ogletree is calling signals for a defense that has been without several projected starters for the first two preseason games.
Donald is absent and linebackers Robert Quinn and Mark Barron and cornerback Kayvon Webster have not played because of injuries or what coach Sean McVay has characterized as preventive maintenance.
Barron will be held out of all preseason games. Quinn’s and Webster’s status for the Chargers game was still to be determined, McVay said.
“While we’d like to have the guys that you’d project on paper as your 11 starters when we’re playing against the Colts — that hasn’t been the situation,” McVay said Thursday. “But, I think our players have been unaffected and it’s presented that next-man-up mentality where guys have maximized some of the opportunities that maybe they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.”
The Rams defense, Ogletree said, has “done a lot of good stuff, but we also had a couple mistakes here and there,” during preseason victories over the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders.
The unit will try to correct those mistakes and minimize others against the Chargers, with Ogletree leading the way.
“He’s obviously a great football player,” McVay said, “But I think what he represents in the locker room, in the meeting room and the way that he goes about his business every single day is what sets him apart.
“We’re fortunate to have a player like him.”
Rookie receiver Cooper Kupp is nursing a groin strain and will not play against the Chargers, McVay said. Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman also will sit out. … Actor/comedian Kevin Hart participated in drills with the Rams for a new online series Hart is starring in. Rams players remained on point throughout the workout, McVay said. “It’s always good to remember that while we want to be structured and we’re always mindful of that, you can still have fun and enjoy doing things like that as well,” he said. Running back Todd Gurley on Hart: “It was funny. If I ever see him on Twitter talking stuff about a football player — he can’t even catch a punt. So, he definitely can’t say anything else about a football player.”
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