Big-money CB Trumaine Johnson skips Rams' voluntary workouts
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Cornerback Trumaine Johnson surprised the Los Angeles Rams on Tuesday by not showing up for voluntary organized team activities.
Johnson was absent when the Rams began their second week of workouts under their new coaching staff.
When asked why the high-priced defensive back didn't return for the second week of workouts that could be a key to his long-term future with the team, head coach Sean McVay was uncertain.
''We weren't expecting him not to be here, but I'm sure that we'll find that out,'' McVay said. ''He's done a great job communicating with us, but I'm not really sure where he was today.''
McVay noted that the workouts are not mandatory, but Johnson and star defensive lineman Aaron Donald appeared to be the only key players absent.
Johnson is likely to be the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL if he plays for the second straight year under the franchise tag. He is scheduled to make $16.74 million this season.
Johnson and the Rams had planned to wait on discussions for a long-term extension until after offseason workouts conclude with a minicamp in mid-June.
Los Angeles wanted to give a full month to new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to decide whether Johnson's skills fit into his scheme, which counts on physical cornerbacks who can handle themselves in isolated coverage assignments.
Johnson seemed content to wait for contract extension talks last week when he reported for the first week of the Rams' offseason program. The one-year contract under the franchise tag can be replaced by a longer deal before July 15.
''Trumaine has been excellent (in) this offseason program,'' McVay said. ''Certainly, it was one of those things ... you get out on the field, and maybe there's something that's happened since then. I don't have my phone on me, but it is voluntary, and I think that's something that's important for us to remember.''
The Rams have concentrated their negotiating efforts in recent weeks on a long-term deal with defensive lineman Aaron Donald, who also is skipping OTAs. General manager Les Snead said Donald's absence is related to the late stage of his contract negotiations.
Donald is one of the NFL's best defensive players and the cornerstone of the Rams' defense on the interior line.
Johnson had only one interception in 14 games last season, but was fairly consistent in coverage as the Rams' top defensive back. He has 16 interceptions in his five-year NFL career, working his way into a key role for the Rams in St. Louis.
In Johnson's absence, newcomer Nickell Robey-Coleman was among several defensive backs taking more prominent roles in practice.
''I thought the guys who stepped up in (Johnson's) absence today did a nice job competing,'' McVay said. ''You saw good things from E.J. Gaines, Nickell Robey. That's the thing you like about your secondary, with the depth that we do have.''
The Rams also signed quarterback Dylan Thompson as a potential third-stringer. He spent training camp and the preseason with Los Angeles in 2016.
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