MJD: Rams want Todd Gurley to be 'fresh year-round'

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The curious case of Todd Gurley's left knee reportedly has the Los Angeles Rams concerned for the running back's health and altering how Gurley will be used going forward.

Gurley told NFL Network analyst and Rams radio color commentator Maurice Jones-Drew this week that he is not hurt. But Jones-Drew said the Rams are planning to use Gurley less in the 2019 season.

"I think you can expect (22 touches per game). But he may not be on the field for 80 snaps," Jones-Drew said on Thursday's edition of NFL Total Access. "He may be on the field for 60 or 50 snaps instead of having to be on the field for 16 games playing 80 snaps to 90 snaps a game. That's not gonna happen anymore."

Gurley played on 74.7 and 75.8 percent of Los Angeles' regular-season offensive snaps in 2017 and 2018, respectively. That equates to 50.4 snaps per game in 2017 and 56.6 snaps per game in 2018. TGIII has also averaged 22.7 touches, 135.3 total yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game over the last two years.

The back's snap rate took a sizable dip last postseason, however, when he played just 56.2 percent of the Rams' offensive snaps and 38 snaps per game, giving way to free-agent pickup C.J. Anderson after suffering a knee injury in Week 15.

Anderson is no longer with the organization, but the Rams have surrounded Gurley this offseason with a solid committee in Malcolm Brown and third-round rookie Darrell Henderson. Rams brass did that with a purpose, Jones-Drew said.

"The plan starts with drafting Darrell Henderson out of Memphis," MJD explained. "Now Todd was a guy where, last year, Todd was on the field 80-plus percent of the time. You don't want that. You want Todd to be able to come in and be explosive in spurts. Malcolm Brown got hurt. Todd had to take over, be the only guy. They only had two backs that were active. Now you're going to three, four backs that'll be active.

"From there, we're not going to run Todd in OTAs and get tread on the tires in OTAs. ... This plan has been laid out between Todd, his personal trainer and coach McVay and the organization on what they're going to do. And they've all bought into it and they're all working well doing it."

This strategy jives with what NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport's reporting earlier this week that Gurley's days of "being the straight-up, every-down bell cow are probably over."

Gurley has not been practicing with the team during offseason workouts, instead taking part in the "planned training program," as explained by MJD. The RB 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.

"Todd has a plan to be ready throughout the course of the season," Jones-Drew said. "They want to be sure that they don't run Todd as much as they did last year and the year before all to where he can't perform the last two games of the year, he's got to take a rest to get him prepared for the playoffs. They want to make sure he's fresh year-round and I think that's important because Todd Gurley is an exceptional player."

The Rams begin their three-day mandatory minicamp on June 11.

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