Rams CB Trumaine Johnson returns to OTAs after week absence
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Trumaine Johnson claims he didn't miss a week of offseason workouts because he was mad at the Los Angeles Rams, or because he was upset about his contract situation.
The high-priced cornerback returned to voluntary workouts with the Rams on Monday after skipping a week. Johnson neglected to inform Rams coach Sean McVay in advance that he would miss last week's program, but he said his absence wasn't related to uncertainty over his long-term future with the team.
Instead, Johnson spent the week dealing with an unspecified personal matter.
''I understand it's a distraction,'' Johnson said after practice. ''I've got to do better of communicating with them. McVay reached out to me. Everybody reached out to me (last Tuesday). It was just a personal situation, and I reached them right back (a day later).''
While Johnson returned to workouts Monday, the Rams were without All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald, offensive tackle Greg Robinson and new linebacker Connor Barwin. Donald has skipped the entire three weeks of organized team activities while he works on a lucrative contract with the Rams, while Robinson and Barwin informed the new coaching staff in advance that they couldn't make it Monday, McVay said.
Johnson has ample motivation to make a positive impression on the Rams' staff before training camp. He is likely to be the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL this year if he plays for the second straight season under the franchise tag, making $16.74 million.
Johnson clearly would prefer to reach a long-term deal with the Rams, but the team decided to wait to open negotiations until after their mandatory minicamp wraps up next week. Los Angeles general manager Les Snead has said the team first wanted to see how Johnson fits in the schemes of new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
If Johnson has any uncertainty or dissatisfaction over his contract situation, he isn't showing it. His one-year contract under the franchise tag can be replaced by a longer deal only if they reach a deal before July 15.
''Right now, I'm happy to be here and playing ball,'' Johnson said. ''I'm controlling what I can control, and when that contract stuff comes up, I'll handle it.''
Johnson also appears to be getting along well with Phillips, who took over the defense after McVay's offseason arrival. Johnson sounds confident in his ability to fit anywhere in the Rams' defense.
''I'm a complete corner,'' Johnson said. ''I can play man. I can play off. I can play zone. I can play waterboy. I can play anything y'all want me to play, man. This is my sixth year. I'm not a rookie.''
Although his new coaching staff has plenty of work to do in the next two weeks, McVay didn't seem overly worried about Johnson's absence or the departures of Robinson and Barwin, who are both candidates for important roles in the fall.
''As a coach, you're always going to want the guys here,'' McVay said. ''But you also understand the framework of the way this stuff is set up in the offseason program. I think the guys have done a good job of understanding ... and we're flexible with these guys as well. All things being equal, you would love to say, `Let's get everybody here so that we can get all the work that you want, and you guys aren't missing out on any information that's given out.'''
McVay also sounds fairly confident he'll have a full roster when the Rams begin their mandatory minicamp next week.
''You always hope for it,'' McVay said. ''Each day, you're kind of ready to take on new challenges, and things come up. That's our hope, that's our expectation, and I guess we'll find out next week.''
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