Rams' Aaron Donald on first live action vs. Raiders: 'I ain't where I want to be'

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald watches a joint practice with the Raiders.

The Rams and the Las Vegas Raiders held their second joint practice on Thursday in Thousand Oaks. Rams star defensive tackle Aaron Donald returned after a rest day and immediately raised the intensity level of the workout.

In something of an upset, no fights broke out.

Donald — and the frustration he produces for opponents — has ignited many of the major scuffles and brawls the Rams have engaged in during joint practices through the years. Last year in Cincinnati, Donald swung a helmet during a melee with the Bengals.

But there were no incidents Thursday.

Read more: Another Rams-Raiders fight: Why Cam Akers and Maxx Crosby threw punches

“Football is football — you’re going to have them days when it’s a little chippy,” Donald said. “But it comes with it. But it was a good day’s work.”

Apparently not good enough for Donald, a three-time NFL defensive player of the year.

“I feel like I ain’t where I want to be, but I feel like I’m getting better,” he said. “I did some good things and I did some things I didn’t like.

“Me, personally, I didn’t think I had the type of practice I wanted. ... I’m always my worst critic. So just got to continue to study, continue to find ways to be better.”

Despite his evaluation, Donald, 32, appears fully recovered from ankle surgery and in top shape as he prepares for his 10th season.

After getting through Thursday’s workout without incident, perhaps Donald’s joint-practice brawling days are over.

Then again, the Rams will practice with the Denver Broncos next week.

Other observations from the workout:

Rams running back Cam Akers runs with the football.

No harm, no foul

A day after he traded punches with Raiders star defensive lineman Maxx Crosby, Rams running back Cam Akers said the two “chopped it up” after Thursday’s practice.

“No hard feelings,” Akers said. “It ain’t personal.”

The fight Wednesday began when Crosby chased Akers about 25 yards downfield and attempted to strip the ball.

“He was being extra,” Akers said. “He ran after me, he did some extra stuff and he got what he got.”

Said Donald: “I was asking both of them, I had them together, I was like, ‘Who won?’ They were, ‘I won. I won.’ I’m going to say it’s a tie.”

Akers beefed up for his fourth season. He said he cut out fried foods and sugar and felt an immediate improvement in his sleep and recovery time.

He said he was ready for the season.

“Mentally, physically, spiritually, ready to go,” Akers said.

Under-the-radar addition

Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp looks at notes from the sideline during a joint with the Raiders.

The absence of star Cooper Kupp has enabled other receivers to showcase their skills, third-year pro Tutu Atwell and rookie Puka Nacua the most obvious.

But Demarcus Robinson, an eighth-year pro who signed a veteran-minimum deal in June, continued to demonstrate that he could be a contributor.

Robinson made several impressive plays during practices with the Raiders and is expected to get more opportunities in Saturday’s preseason game against the Raiders at SoFi Stadium.

Jones in middle of everything

After taking a back seat to veteran Bobby Wagner last season, linebacker Ernest Jones is assuming control of the defense.

Donald is the only remaining star from a defense that in the last few years featured cornerback Jalen Ramsey and edge rusher Leonard Floyd, among others.

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Jones said he weighed 218 pounds when he played in Super Bowl LVI. He currently weighs 245.

“I felt like in the past I just was too skinny,” Jones said. “I wanted to be able to have the durability to go through a whole 17-plus games.”

O-line still a question mark

The state of the Rams’ offensive line will not be known until the Sept. 10 opener against the Seattle Seahawks.

With most starters not playing in preseason games and no tackling permitted during joint practices, it is impossible to accurately assess the line’s ability to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford and open holes for Akers.

With Joe Noteboom sidelined because of an unspecified injury, the line includes left tackle Alaric Jackson, left guard Steve Avila, center Coleman Shelton, right guard Tremayne Anchrum and right tackle Rob Havenstein.

Havenstein left practice with what coach Sean McVay described as a neck “stinger.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.