IRVINE, Calif. -- Sean McVay isn't just a first-year head coach; he's the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. He won't just be calling the Los Angeles Rams' offensive plays; he'll be looking to fix an offense that was the league's worst over the past two years. He isn't just taking over a floundering franchise; he's steering one that is still trying to establish itself in the nation's second largest media market. And now he doesn't know what to expect with his best player.
As if McVay didn't already have enough on his plate, he's also in the middle of a precarious situation with Aaron Donald, the Pro Bowl defensive tackle who wants a restructured contract and may or may not show up for the start of training camp.
It's all part of the experience.
"It's been interesting," McVay, 31, said with a smile on Thursday, the day before veterans were scheduled to report for camp. "I think just growing up around the game, you kind of study some of the things that come up. People always told you, 'Until you get into this role, you never really know what it's like with the amount of things that come across your desk.' That's certainly been the case in the last few months, and we haven't even had a preseason game or a game yet."
McVay has spoken to Donald throughout the offseason and maintains that they have had "good dialogue," but wouldn't go into further detail. General manager Les Snead wouldn't, either, saying only that Donald's contract is "still a priority" and that the organization is "working to find a resolution."
McVay did a little bit of traveling during his off time. He took a family trip to Cabo San Lucas, then went to Barcelona and Paris with his girlfriend.
He tried his best to unplug.
"It was good to get away," McVay said. "But sometimes you get that playbook out ... and my family or my girlfriend's got to say, 'Hey, put that away. Why don't you relax a little bit?' But it's exciting to be able to be back and be around these players. This is what you love to do."
McVay and his coaches have been at UC Irvine since Tuesday. Several players, Jared Goff included, were already at the facility by Wednesday. The rest -- minus Donald, perhaps -- will trickle in on Friday morning and take a physical. Then, at about 6 p.m. PT, McVay will lead another team meeting. He'll talk about how they will practice, what he wants their tape to look like and the culture they will set. "We Not Me" will continue to be McVay's rallying cry.
But Donald's situation will be omnipresent.
The two-time first-team All-Pro is widely considered the game's best interior pass-rusher -- some would even call him the game's best defensive player -- and seemingly wants to be paid like one. But he's still two seasons away from free agency, set to make a combined base salary of less than $9 million in 2017 and '18. So the sides seemingly have a lot of ground to make up.
McVay doesn't really know if Donald will report on Day 1.
He'll find out on Friday like the rest of us.
"I think one of the things that you have to be ready for, especially when you're fortunate enough to be in a leadership position like this, is be an example of the mental toughness that we talk about with our players," McVay said. "We've got to be ready to handle different situations and not flinch. And if that's something that we have to react to, we'll move forward accordingly. However things play out, whether it's injuries or some of these things that we're talking about right now, September 10th is going to come quick. And the Colts won't have any reservations about giving us their best shot."