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Rams facing this painful question: Are Todd Gurley’s best years behind him?

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  • Rams facing this painful question: Are Todd Gurley’s best years behind him?

    Rams facing this painful question: Are Todd Gurley’s best years behind him?
    By Vincent Bonsignore
    Mar 3, 2019

    INDIANAPOLIS​ — There is finally​ some​ clarity​ on the condition​ of Todd Gurley’s​ left knee,​ and the​ news over the​ weekend painted​​ a gloomy picture for the Rams’ star running back.

    On Friday, John Breech of CBS Sports reported that the Rams might consider stem cell treatment for Gurley’s knee, which was surgically repaired in 2014 after an ACL tear during his junior year at Georgia. On Saturday, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported that recent tests have revealed Gurley is dealing with arthritis in the knee.

    Both revelations cast doubt on the future of Gurley, who signed a four-year contract extension worth $60 million last summer that takes him through the 2023 season and guarantees him $45 million.

    With head coach Sean McVay talking about putting a plan in place to manage Gurley’s workload and general manager Les Snead pondering the potential need to add another running back alongside him, a dreaded question the Rams and their fans never wanted to contemplate is now absolutely valid.

    Are Gurley’s best years behind him?

    Since arthritis is a common occurrence in knees that have been surgically repaired, it is possible Gurley could be suffering from the condition. An orthopedic surgeon, speaking anonymously to The Athletic, said: “When you use the words arthritis in a knee that had an ACL back in college, that’s the connection. You’ve lost the alignment, and the tires are wearing out prematurely.”

    If that is indeed the case, it creates an ominous situation for Gurley based on multiple doctors consulted, including Dr. Jesse Morse of Florida Orthopedic Specialists.

    “Without personally examining him, my answers will obviously be very generalized, but unfortunately I believe Gurley has peaked and will not be able to repeat his record-breaking effectiveness,” Dr. Morse said. “He could possibly have one to two more years of elite top-five running back talent, but he will likely lose a step.”

    Publicly and privately, the Rams are not indicating anything more beyond the recent comments by McVay and Snead that Gurley was dealing with “wear and tear” issues late in the season.

    McVay said this week at the NFL Scouting Combine that surgery is not planned for Gurley. According to the doctors consulted by The Athletic, Gurley clearly has a condition that requires management rather than an injury that needs surgery.

    As far as stem cell treatment — which some doctors insist is a radical and not-yet-proven treatment that should be approached cautiously — Rams sources said no such course of action has been discussed within the organization.

    McVay and Snead have talked about putting a plan in place that will help keep Gurley fresh and effective over the course of a full season. Presumably, that means managing Gurley’s usage and touches during practice and games and investing in a capable backup running back that can capably share the workload.

    If arthritis has truly started to set in, Gurley and the Rams must proceed diligently and carefully in order to maintain an effective level of play for as long as possible. That likely means the days of Gurley running the ball more than 250 times (as he did the last three years) and being targeted in the pass game more than 80 times (as he was in 2017 and 2018) might be over.

    “With the amount of talent and resources that NFL teams have, they should be able to prevent a rapid decline for a Gurley-type talent, especially with as much money as they have invested in him,” Dr. Morse said. “They will likely decrease his workload and strive for something like 150 to 200 rushing attempts, or possibly increase his route-running abilities. Optimizing Gurley will require finding a happy balance between running and receiving, but I do not think he will be able to repeat the volume he has been able to (achieve) over the past couple of years.”

    As far as actual treatment, there are non-surgical options that can potentially stall or decrease the advancement of arthritis. But short of knee replacement, there is no actual cure.

    “Can he reverse his arthritis? No,” Dr. Morse said. “Can he use different treatment modalities to prevent the progression of osteoarthritis? Yes. Such things as glucosamine/chondroitin, physical therapy, appropriate weight loss and PRP/stem cell injections have all been proven to be effective in this nature.”

    Unfortunately for Gurley and the Rams, there are no guarantees any of this is achievable over a 16-game NFL regular season. And without the ability to cure or reverse knee arthritis, the prognosis is murky.

    Keep in mind, Gurley led the NFL in rushing and touchdowns for most of the 2018 season. And he looked like his usual self against the Dallas Cowboys in the Rams’ divisional playoff win. But, despite his insistence he was perfectly fine against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game and against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, Gurley’s subpar performances and low usage said otherwise.

    We might not know the real story until next season, when questions can be answered. How much will Gurley play? In what manner will he be used?

    And for how long can Todd Gurley be Todd Gurley?

  • #2
    “Without personally examining him, my answers will obviously be very generalized, but unfortunately I believe Gurley has peaked and will not be able to repeat his record-breaking effectiveness,” Dr. Morse said. “He could possibly have one to two more years of elite top-five running back talent, but he will likely lose a step.”
    We might not know the real story until next season, when questions can be answered. How much will Gurley play? In what manner will he be used?

    And for how long can Todd Gurley be Todd Gurley?

    Wow. Much to speculate, for sure. One of the Rams cylinders potentially going bad?

    I still wonder if CJ returns for 2019 and if so, would Gurley become his 2 - 1 rather than the 1 - 2.

    "The first wealth is health." - RW Emerson


    • #3
      Does it make sense to draft a RB in the third round to help prolong Gurley's career and eventually replace? Miles Sanders maybe? I think it does.


      • #4
        Losing Todd's reps would be huge but it seems like many have overlooked Malcolm Brown when considering the running back load. Malcolm had a clavicle injury similar to Robert Woods' injury the previous year. Woods recovered and performed quite well this year. And Malcolm proved to be a serviceable back in Gurley's absence or when he needed a blow. While CJ Anderson was a nice replacement for us when Malcolm went down and Todd's knee acted up, I hope Brown, who is only 25 years old with three years of Rams experience, still gets a chance to prove his worth in a less Gurley-dominated offense.
        "People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest" Herman Hesse


        • #5
          Originally posted by Chris58 View Post

          Losing Todd's reps would be huge but it seems like many have overlooked Malcolm Brown when considering the running back load. ...I hope Brown, who is only 25 years old with three years of Rams experience, still gets a chance to prove his worth in a less Gurley-dominated offense.

          Totally agree. Malcolm Brown is definitely a keeper. Activate / use him aplenty this year and see how TG does.


          • #6
            Though this is most definitely a big concern moving forward, I think drafting a RB early would be a mistake. Re-sign CJ Anderson, and between him and a healthy Brown, they should be enough to spell Gurley and/or carry the load. Remember: we've enjoyed a luxury the past several seasons most teams don't have, which is a big-time running back. But the running back position is still secondary in this league and you can win without an elite back.

            This situation is not great for our football team and it's certainly discouraging for Gurley, but it by no means suggests we can't and won't have an excellent season again next year.


            Related Topics


            • r8rh8rmike
              C.J. Anderson: Gurley Was 'More Hurt Than We Thought" When He Signed With Rams
              by r8rh8rmike
              C.J. Anderson says Todd Gurley was 'more hurt than what we thought' when he signed with the Rams

              Gurley barely saw the field in the playoffs, but the Rams have insisted that he was completely healthy

              by Sean Wagner-McGough
              15 hrs ago • 4 min read

              It's been two weeks since the Super Bowl and the mystery surrounding Todd Gurley's strange absence has yet to be cleared up.

              All along, the Rams have maintained that Gurley was healthy during the playoffs and attributed his lack of playing time to football reasons -- with Gurley saying he simply got out-played by C.J. Anderson in the NFC Championship Game and Sean McVay saying he didn't do a good enough job getting his star running back involved. To no one's surprise, neither of those responses have been considered satisfactory answers to the biggest mystery of the playoffs.

              On Tuesday, Anderson provided more support to the theory that Gurley was dealing with a knee injury during the playoffs, hence his decreased workload. During an appearance on FS1's "Undisputed," Anderson revealed that when he arrived in Los Angeles, Gurley was more hurt than anyone initially thought, including the Rams and Gurley.

              "He was more hurt than what we thought," Anderson said. "The injury was a little bit more than what everybody in the building thought, including himself."

              So what was the injury? Anderson described it as a sprained knee, but he couldn't call it that with any kind of certainty.

              "He'd never really tell me. It was tough. I would say sprained knee," Anderson said. "Obviously, it's the same knee injury he's had before in his career. Obviously, I had surgery on my meniscus and once you have a knee, you always have a knee. So it aggravates. If he was getting a lot of touches earlier in the year -- obviously, him being one of the best running backs that probably was the case."

              Gurley dealt with a knee injury at both the beginning and the end of the regular season, which led to the Rams sitting him for their final two games of the season and signing Anderson to fill in. Anderson played well in relief of Gurley in Weeks 16 and 17, rushing for 299 yards and two touchdowns as the Rams secured a first-round playoff bye.

              When it came time for their playoff run to begin against the Cowboys in the divisional round, Anderson and Gurley shared touches, and both of them thrived. Gurley rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries while Anderson racked up 123 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.

              Gurley certainly looked healthy.


              But Gurley was almost entirely absent in the NFC title game, garnering four carries for 10 yards and dropping a couple of passes in the early going while Anderson carried the ball 16 times for 44 yards.

              -02-20-2019, 07:38 AM
            • Nick
              Where in the World is Todd Gurley?
              by Nick
              Forgive my weak attempt at a Carmen Sandiego reference, but I think the question needs to be asked again and again until we have an answer.

              Through the regular season, Gurley averaged 18.2 rushes per game and four receptions per game. In the playoffs, he rushed the ball ten times a game on average and caught four passes in three contests.

              This offense is built through Gurley. The strength of the running game is what makes play action so effective. Finding ways to get the ball in Gurley's hands should be priority number one for anyone making decisions about this offense, yet it seems like after his injury, and more specifically after the Dallas playoff win, Gurley just disappeared from the gameplan.

              There are some people across the internet - I know because I've seen the responses in the Twitter feeds of those who cover the Rams - who are abandoning ship on Gurley. I think it's way too soon for that kind of overreaction. But it really does make you wonder, in the biggest game of his career, why Sean McVay didn't do more to make Gurley a focal point of the gameplan.

              The Rams insist he's completely healthy, and Gurley does as well. I wouldn't be surprised, though, to find out in a couple of weeks that he had some nagging injury that needs cleaned up over the offseason. Still, it would be rather baffling if that's the case after so much insistence to the contrary.

              It kind of makes me wonder if there's something else going on behind the scenes, some kind of personal issue that Gurley is going through and the Rams have been trying to help him by easing his workload or not putting too much on his plate. I have no evidence or anything to base this off of, aside from just the mere speculation that will occur when someone who normally is so heavily part of a gameplan gets left behind so strangely.

              Either way, the Rams need to spend this offseason looking in the mirror and figuring out why, when all the chips were on the table, they kept their stud workhorse on the sidelines as much as they did. Maybe Gurley just needs an offseason away from football to get back to his normal self or to recover from whatever ails him. Let's hope that's the case, and we're not looking at the symptoms of a bigger problem here, either for Gurley or McVay....
              -02-04-2019, 04:04 AM
            • r8rh8rmike
              Rams RB Gurley says knee 'feeling pretty good'
              by r8rh8rmike
              Rams RB Gurley says knee 'feeling pretty good'

              3:26 PM PT
              Lindsey Thiry ESPN

              THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Running back Todd Gurley reported Monday for the first day of the Los Angeles Rams' voluntary workout program prepared to answer numerous questions about the status of his left knee.

              "It's feeling pretty good," Gurley said. "Taking it day by day."

              Gurley said there was "not really" any discussion about the possibility of an offseason procedure on his knee, and that his immediate focus was on the present when asked if a long-term management plan was in place.

              "All I need to worry about is how I'm feeling right now," Gurley said. "I don't know how I'm going to be feeling six months from now. So like I said, just kind of keep working hard, doing what I've been doing these past couple of years."

              When asked if he was able to confirm reports that he had a degenerative knee or arthritis, Gurley avoided any such label.

              "I mean, all I can focus on is how I'm doing right now," Gurley said. "Feeling pretty good, like I said, taking it day by day and just trying to get better, get ready for the next season."

              Gurley's left knee, which was surgically repaired in 2014, kept him sidelined for Weeks 16 and 17, after he rushed for 1,251 yards and scored a league-best 21 touchdowns in 14 games.

              Gurley returned for the playoffs and rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown in a divisional-round win over the Dallas Cowboys.

              However, his performances in the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LIII led to continued speculation that his knee continued to cause discomfort.

              Against the New Orleans Saints in the conference title game, he gained only 13 total yards on five touches. And in a loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, he rushed for 35 yards on 10 carries.

              Rams coach Sean McVay said Monday that Gurley, who last July signed a four-year, $60 million extension, would remain a central part of the offense.

              "Todd has shown that he is capable of carrying the workload," McVay said of Gurley, who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. "Todd is a guy that's been a focal point of this offense. He's going to continue to be."...
              -04-16-2019, 01:01 PM
            • Nick
              PFT: Todd Gurley has yet to run with injured knee
              by Nick
              Todd Gurley has yet to run with injured knee
              Posted by Mike Florio on December 20, 2018, 9:32 PM EST

              Rams running back Todd Gurley has a knee injury, and there’s a chance he may not be able to play on Sunday.

              Gurley has yet to practice this week. Asked by reporters on Thursday whether he could play if the game were today, Gurley said, “That’s a tough question. I haven’t tried to run. So, yeah, that’s a tough question.”

              He nevertheless expressed optimism, despite the fact that he hasn’t yet tried to run.

              “I think I’ll be fine, man,” Gurley said. “Just taking it day-by-day recovering, resting, trying to feel better.”

              If he plays, it likely will happen without practice; he said he doesn’t plan on participating at all this week. He wants to play, obviously; however, he seems to recognize the chance that he won’t.

              “We’ve got a game to win,” Gurley said. “I’m pretty sure me being out there — if I can be out there — I would put this team in a good position to help them win. So why wouldn’t I be out there if I can play? In the situation that we are — we just lost two. We’re trying to get a first-round bye. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to win.”

              Coach Sean McVay has said he won’t risk Gurley’s availability for the postseason by playing him in the final two regular-season games, if he’s not healthy enough to play.

              He’s clearly not healthy enough to practice. At this point, he’s not even healthy enough to run.
              -12-21-2018, 08:43 AM
            • Nick
              Rams RB Todd Gurley won't be 'bell cow' going forward     
              by Nick
              Rams RB Todd Gurley won't be 'bell cow' going forward
              By Jeremy Bergman
              Around The NFL Writer
              Published: June 3, 2019 at 07:59 p.m. Updated: June 3, 2019 at 08:48 p.m.

              Four months after Super Bowl LIII, questions still abound about the health of Todd Gurley's fickle left knee.

              The Los Angeles Rams running back has been held out of on-field team practices during offseason workouts, instead taking part in a "planned training program." Gurley is also reportedly trying to shed half a dozen pounds down to 218 in an attempt to lighten the load on a knee that held him back down the stretch of last season.

              Rams coach Sean McVay addressed Monday reports of Gurley's desire to play at a lower weight, expressing optimism about the running back's health heading into 2019.

              "I want him to feel most comfortable. That's the most important thing, what he feels he can most function at, being the all-purpose back he's been and that's where we're at," McVay told reporters. "So he says, 'I'd rather play five, 10 pounds lighter,' and he's going to feel better about that, then that's exactly what we'll do. He's earned the right to be able to tell us how he's feeling with the give and take. As long as he's got a why, which I know he does, we're always receptive to those things."

              Gurley's return to "all-purpose" form might not be so simple, though. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that it is understood in Los Angeles that Gurley will no longer be the bell-cow back that he was over the first four seasons of his career, something that was hinted at during Super Bowl Weekend and will continue this year.

              "The days of Todd Gurley just being the straight-up, every-down bell cow are probably over, just based on his knee, his age, the position, the amount of carries he's had," Rapoport said on Monday's edition on NFL Total Access. "It's probably not going to be like that, which by the way is maybe why the Rams drafted a running back in the third round, someone they really like a lot. This is a team that is clearly ready to spread the ball around.

              "Of course, Gurley's knee, the wear and tear on that knee, the surgically repaired knee, is something that everyone knows has been concerning to the team for some time. All they really want is for Gurley to come back when the season begins when it's really time to go to be 100 percent. What they don't want is to have all those questions they had leading up the Super Bowl repeat before Week 1."

              Rapoport reported on the day of Super Bowl LIII that Gurley, who had seen a dip in production and snap count since suffering the knee injury in Week 15 but was not mentioned on the injury report, would not be the work horse against the New England Patriots, despite McVay telling reporters Gurley would "be a big part of this game." The running...
              -06-04-2019, 07:43 AM