IRVINE (CBSLA/AP) – Training camp for the Los Angeles Rams will enter its second day Friday at the University of California, Irvine, as the team faces high expectations following its surprising success last season, when it won its first NFC West title since 2003.
Last week, the Rams signed marquee running back Todd Gurley to a four-year, $60 million extension, the richest for a running back in NFL history on a per-season basis. A few days prior, the Rams gave newly-acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks a whopping $80 million, five-year deal.
The signings were somewhat puzzling given the noticeable absence from training camp of arguably the team's best player, All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Donald, the NFL's defensive player of the year, and the Rams have been working on a long-term extension since early last year. Donald skipped all of training camp last year in a holdout, and he missed all of the Rams' offseason activities this spring.
He did not report to the first day of camp Thursday. Donald is under contract for this season for nearly $6.9 million in the fifth year of his rookie contract. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the belief around the league is that Donald will not play another down on his current contract.
Coach Sean McVay says talks with Donald haven't advanced since earlier this week, when Donald was still at home in Pittsburgh.
Donald, the No. 13 overall pick in the 2013 draft, has made the Pro Bowl every season of his career. He has been named a first team All-Pro in the past last three seasons. H has had 39 sacks across his first four seasons, first in the league among defensive tackles, according to CBS Sports.
"We're simultaneously working to make Aaron a Ram a long time," Rams General Manager Les Snead said last week. "That's the goal. Aaron is a big part of who we are, where we want to go, but the details and all that, we're going to continue the course of keeping them in-house."
Adding to Donald's frustration could be the summer signing of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to a one-year, $14 million deal. While a solid player, Suh is not anywhere near the caliber of Donald, but will be making more than double Donald's salary.
Each day of training camp, which runs through Aug. 16, will be open to the public except for today, which is reserved for Rams season ticket holders. All but one of the practices open to the general public will begin at 3 p.m. The exception is the final one, Aug. 16, which will begin at 9:45 a.m. The other open practices will be conducted July 29-30, Aug. 1-2, 4, 11-13 and Aug. 15.
To attend any practice held on a Saturday or Sunday, fans must sign up in advance for their free ticket, which will be used to redeem the giveaway. The tickets are available at therams.com/freetickets.
Parking will be available in the Mesa Parking Structure, next to the Bren Events Center. Fans are encouraged to purchase parking passes in advance for the discounted rate of $10 here.
Parking purchased in-person on the day of practice is $15.
The training camp includes an expanded fan activation area, which will open two hours prior to every practice. The area will include a DJ, face painting, interactive photo experience, enter-to-win opportunities and a virtual reality gaming tent.
Fans will have the opportunity to form a Fan Tunnel when the players take the field for practice. Each practice, 20 fans along with a guest of their choosing will be selected to form the tunnel.
Fans must register in advance for the chance to take part in the Fan Tunnel here. The fans selected will be notified by the Rams 48 hours in advance of their respective date.
Fans may bring the following items to practice -- hats, jackets, rain gear, sunglasses, sunscreen, binoculars, umbrellas, and strollers.
The following items will not be permitted at training camp -- outside alcohol, outside food and beverage, coolers, glass containers, noise makers, loud radios, large signs or inappropriate attire.
Pets are not allowed, although service animals are permitted.
No weapons of any kind, regardless of persons with concealed carry handgun permits, will be allowed.
Fans may bring cameras. Flash photography is not allowed. Video cameras are prohibited.
UC Irvine is a smoke- and tobacco-free campus.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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