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Todd Gurley sees '12 people on the field' on runs

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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Todd Gurley's breakout season in Los Angeles hasn't gone to plan.

The Offensive Rookie of the Year, who rushed for 125-plus yards in four of his first five games in 2015, has sputtered this year, amassing just 98 yards on 36 carries against two division rivals. The Rams have yet to score a touchdown, and their burgeoning star has yet to get off the ground.

You'd be hard-pressed to find people blaming Gurley, including his teammates. Defenses are stacking the box against Los Angeles, a risk-averse move with Case Keenum under center. The effect of this pressure is stressing Gurley out, or at least making him see double.

"It's been crazy," Gurley told Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times on Friday. "I'm like, 'There's 12 people on the field!' It's definitely a lot of people."

Quick, someone get an optometrist, or a side judge!

Gurley might be succumbing to sophomore jitters, phasing himself out before he can get in a midseason groove. But his chatter is sending a message to the offensive line, who hasn't blocked well for him under opposing pressure.

Rodger Saffold joined the St. Louis Rams right at the tail end of the Steven Jackson administration, and found some unsettling similarities between Gurley and the former Rams back.

"(Jackson) kind of knew, 'With so many people inside, I've got to bounce' and he'd break a tackle and get 12 or 15 yards," Saffold explained. "(Gurley) has the same ability, but we have to make sure ... when he makes that first guy miss, we don't have two or three more guys coming after him."

Jackson, of course, was the workhorse of many maligned Rams teams, including three that had 2-14 records or worse. His ability to evade rushers and be a competent back despite the obstacles his own team faces is admired, but should not be a quality desired of Gurley by this current Rams iteration.

As our colleague Kevin Patra wrote earlier this week, Gurley has been forced to earn more yards after contact than before, a crazy stat for a back whose longest run of the season is just 11 yards. In Week 2 versus the Seahawks, Gurley averaged 0.6 rushing yards before and 1.9 yards after getting hit, per Pro Football Focus.

The Rams' issue isn't paving the way for Gurley after the "first guy" misses; it's letting the first guy get there so quickly.

Regardless, the offensive line is up for the challenge against the Buccaneers.

"We just have to do our jobs," guard Cody Wichmann added. "Once we start clicking, all 11 of us together, that's when Todd's going to break long plays."

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