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Rams RB Todd Gurley won't be 'bell cow' going forward

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 back carried the ball 10 times for just 35 yards in Los Angeles' loss.

The Rams have since insisted that Gurley was healthy ahead of the big game, despite reports that the back's knee remains arthritic. McVay said in April that Gurley would be the "focal point" of Los Angeles' offense.

But that was before the Rams chose Memphis RB Darrell Henderson in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, after which McVay, who used 11 personnel almost exclusively last season, suggested the Rams could use more two-back formations next season. The Rams also employ Malcolm Brown, Justin Davis and John Kelly as backup options.

Since McVay's arrival in L.A., there have been few, if any, offensive players as consistently dangerous as Gurley, who led the league in yards from scrimmage and total TDs in 2017 en route to Offensive Player of the Year honors and then paced all pros with 21 total TDs in 2018 despite missing the Rams' final two games.

But all indications, from inside and outside the Rams' facility, are that the 24-year-old Gurley's days of league-leading dominance are dwindling.

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