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Random Ramsdom: Aaron Donald won’t be playing in Rams-Broncos joint practices

The Rams are doing a ton of dress rehearsal without Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp

Los Angeles Chargers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams are getting a ton of rehearsal to see what life would be like without Aaron Donald.

First, Donald was excused from OTAs and mandatory minicamp for “family stuff” and then he has had his share of veteran rest days during training camp. That includes resting against the Las Vegas Raiders in joint practices, until starting up again on Thursday and getting into a skirmish on his first play.

Next, Donald will not be traveling with the Rams to Denver to play in joint practices and preseason against the Broncos. Donald is expecting a child with his wife “any day now”.

All told, the Rams have played the vast majority of their offseason practices and preparation without their best player. It’s a pretty interesting “strategy” for a defense where literally only one member of that side of the ball is experienced and proven to be able to play at a high level in the NFL. Donald isn’t just the veteran of the defense, he IS the defense.

But the Rams are not demanding that Aaron Donald be with the team everyday, the youngest and least experienced in the NFL. I’m not saying that they should, I’m just saying the truth and you can decide what that means. It could just mean that Donald is a player who doesn’t need to be in the building everyday because he’s so great—Nick Bosa hasn’t been with the 49ers once during training camp as he holds out—and that he also has a busy workload at home.

The point is that the Rams are learning what life would be like without Aaron Donald.

And Cooper Kupp has missed most of the offseason too.

Kupp was also given an excused absence for mandatory minicamp, then he was taken off of the field early in training camp with a hamstring issue. Therefore, L.A.’s offense has exclusively been practicing as if they don’t have Cooper Kupp.

However, any conspiracy theories that the L.A. Rams are preparing to trade Donald and Kupp and to tank for a top pick could be stopped short by the fact that Matthew Stafford’s been heavily involved with the starters so far. Unlike 2022, when John Wolford took most of the reps with the starters, the team isn’t trying to give Stetson Bennett all that he can handle in practice with the 1s. Bennett has played the vast majority of the two preseason games, but that is to be expected.