Gurley on 'veteran plan' to stay healthy deep in season

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  • By Logan Reardon NFL.com
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IRVINE, Calif. -- The man everyone wanted to see finally took the practice field on Saturday.

A knee injury cost him the final two regular season games and was the storyline of his playoffs and offseason, but Todd Gurley is back at Rams training camp with a new plan -- a plan to stay healthy into December and January.

What's the plan exactly, Todd?

"It's a great plan -- the veteran plan," Gurley said after the Rams' first camp practice.

The Rams' "veteran plan" includes sitting out each preseason game and taking it day-by-day at practice. Gurley practiced on Saturday after being held out of OTAs and minicamp, but sat out a number of plays and occasionally watched the first-team go without him. When he was on the field, there was no noticeable hindrance in his movement.

"There will be (days he doesn't practice)," Rams coach Sean McVay said. "There will be some days that -- depending upon his workload and looking toward that (Week 1) Carolina game -- we might look at treating him like we have some of those veteran players. Todd really has become a veteran player."

In the first four years of Gurley's career, he has earned the right to be called a veteran player. He has led the league in rushing touchdowns each of the past two seasons and been named first-team All-Pro both years.

Even as he's put up monster numbers, the injury questions have always surrounded Gurley. His college career at Georgia ended in 2014 when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. In the pros, the former first-rounder has been relatively healthy up until last season.

"Knee inflammation" was the cause of his missed regular season games in 2018. Despite McVay's insistence that he wasn't hurt in the postseason, it's hard to believe the league leader in rushing touchdowns only gets 10 carries in the Super Bowl if he's healthy.

That brings us to May, when Gurley's trainer confirmed there is an "arthritic component" to the left knee. Obviously, speculation has since been swirling around the three-time Pro Bowler.

"I don't entertain (speculative reports)," Gurley said. "When you entertain stuff, that's when you start letting things get to you and be emotional. It's the internet, and how serious can you take the internet? For some people, it's their job. My job is to play football."

Gurley did that job on Saturday -- and he did it pretty well, according to his teammates.

"He looked great, how'd you guys think he looked? I think he looked good," Rams quarterback Jared Goff said. "He looked like he always does. I know there's been a lot of talk about that, but he looks exactly like he did last year and the year before."

Wide receiver Cooper Kupp, coming off a knee injury of his own, agreed with Goff.

"He looks like Todd Gurley, he looks like Todd Gurley," Kupp said. "Nothing different that I could see."

Gurley's contract, signed last offseason, has a $9.2 million cap hit in 2019 and jumps to $17.25 million in 2020, so the Rams better hope he still looks like himself.

"Finally, he has some doubters, maybe," Goff said. "I'm excited to see him put some of those people to rest. I know he is too, and I expect him to be his old self."

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