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Todd Gurley won't be workhorse for Rams vs. Patriots

In six of his first 12 games, Rams running back Todd Gurley had 20 or more carries. In today's pass-happy NFL, those are numbers of a workhorse. At least in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday night, that is unlikely to be the case.

Based on a variety of factors, including his knee and his conditioning, Gurley and former free-agent pickup CJ Anderson are expected to split carries. That was the case in the NFC title game win over the Saints, and it should be the case on Sunday.

According to Rams running backs coach Skip Peete, they essentially told Gurley this two Sundays ago.

"We said, 'Going forward, we got to make sure you're fresh, you're healthy," Peete said on the RapSheet and Friends podcast this week. "The workload that you had prior to you sitting out, probably can't go that route right now. He understood that. He played. It's just his touches weren't what they had normally been."

It has been one of the stories of the week. How healthy is Gurley? Everyone has said he's back to normal, that there is no real injury there. Still, he's dealt with soreness and irritation most of the season and hasn't been himself recently.

"If you look at a guy who hasn't really practiced in two or three weeks, then all of the sudden has to go out there and play (in the playoffs), the cardio isn't where it needs to be to play 60 or 70 plays," Peete said. "And that's what he had been doing before he sat out. You need to kind of work him back where you put him in situations where it makes sense. That happened in the Dallas game, and I thought he did some things in the last game."

Meanwhile, Anderson -- who the Rams absolutely want back for 2019, sources say -- has impressed. But so did Gurley against the Cowboys.

After thriving against Dallas with 115 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown, Gurley's most indelible moment against the Saints in the NFC title game was on the sidelines. Essentially benched. He finished with just four carries for 10 yards with a touchdown.

But Peete says to go beyond that. He did play 32 snaps, but most came in pass protection.

"It was unfortunate he didn't have the opportunity to touch the ball as often as he normally does," Peete said. "But he had an unbelievable game as far as pass protection goes. The glaring thing when you look back on it, something very uncharacteristic of him, was the drops. That really overshadows what his game was like in my opinion -- those two mistakes where as a coach I'd say, 'You gotta make those plays.' I thought when he was in there -- and some of the plays he didn't get it were check-with-me's based on what the defense does -- he had a nice game. One of his better games as a pass protector, which is just as important as carrying it."

Coach Sean McVay has been consistent this week with where he thinks Gurley stands physically. But whether it plays out on the field today is anyone's guess.

"He's feeling good, 100 percent," McVay said in Friday's pool report. "He should be good. But I think really our team, as a whole, is feeling really good just having two weeks since our last game and looking forward to the challenge and competing to the best of our ability."

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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