Holdout Aaron Donald is still absent as Rams begin preparing for opener against Colts

Holdout Aaron Donald is still absent as Rams begin preparing for opener against Colts
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald tries to fire up the crowd at the Coliseum during a game against Seattle last season. (Kelvin Kuo / Associated Press)

Game week officially arrived for the Rams on Monday — but star defensive lineman Aaron Donald did not.

As the Rams began preparations for Sunday's season opener against the Indianapolis Colts, Donald continued his holdout because of a contract dispute.


The Rams, off Tuesday, will resume practicing Wednesday.

Coach Sean McVay said that he remained optimistic that the Rams and Donald's representatives would "find a solution" but declined to specify a deadline for when Donald must report to be ready to play against the Colts.

"If he's here, then it's a bonus," McVay said after practice, "and that's something that we'll have to come to figure out when he does get here if that's the case."

Despite Donald's limbo status, the Rams learned Monday that they had caught a break going into the opener: Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will not play as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery.

Scott Tolzien is expected to start in Luck's place.

That is a major downgrade, and perhaps one reason why there is no sign of panic about Donald's situation at the Rams' facility in Thousand Oaks.

Donald, a first-round pick in 2013, has 28 sacks in three seasons and is regarded as one of the NFL's most disruptive defensive players.

He is seeking to become the league's highest-paid defensive player.

Donald is scheduled to earn $1.8 million this season and about $6.9 million in 2018, the final year of his rookie contract. The Rams also have the option of putting the franchise tag on him in 2019 and 2020.

Rams executives flew to Atlanta last week to meet with Donald's agents, and McVay said after last week's preseason finale at Green Bay that he was "definitely optimistic" that Donald would report this week.

Five days remain before the opener.

Rams linebacker Robert Quinn said that he supports Donald "and everything he's doing," noting that "in a simple word" pro football is a business.

"It sucks — wish it would've been resolved," Quinn said. "I'm sure both sides wish it would have been resolved already, but it's just one of those things."

Linebacker Alec Ogletree also mentioned the "business side" of Donald's situation.


"We can't be mad at him for not being here," Ogletree said. "We just wish that he could get here and when he does get here we'll be excited to have him back."

Ethan Westbrooks, Tanzel Smart and Tyrunn Walker are among the players who could get increased playing time if Donald continues to stay away.

The Rams have confidence in others who might play in Donald's absence, linebacker Mark Barron said.

"You have to work with what you have in front of you," Barron said. "We're hoping he comes back, but if not we've got to work with what we have and make the best of it."

Extra quarterback

The Rams claimed quarterback Brandon Allen off waivers, waiving cornerback Kevin Peterson to make room on the roster.

Allen, 24, was waived by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who kept quarterbacks Blake Bortles and Chad Henne.

In four preseason games, Allen completed 38 of 58 passes for 516 yards and three touchdowns, with three interceptions.

Greg Olson, the Rams' quarterbacks coach, worked for Jacksonville last season.

"We'll be able to develop him and see how he does," McVay said. "But, I don't know Brandon at all, just seen some of the stuff he's put on tape, but he's a guy that his tape has merited the claim and I think we feel good about that."

The Rams signed veteran quarterback Dan Orlovsky during the offseason but waived him Saturday. McVay had said the Rams might bring back Orlovsky after Week 1, when salaries are not fully guaranteed.


The Rams signed defensive lineman Louis Trinca-Pasat to the practice squad. They also waived receiver Nelson Spruce after reaching an injury settlement. … Tight end Derek Carrier, acquired Saturday in a trade with the Washington Redskins, practiced for the first time. He'll play against the Colts, said McVay, who coached Carrier the last two seasons with the Redskins. "He's going to be ready to go. He'll be active, he'll play and he'll see snaps for sure."… Receiver Sammy Watkins is wearing jersey No. 12. Rookie running back Justin Davis is wearing No. 33.

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein