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NFL Network’s Steve Wyche on Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley: “This was a wear and tear issue”

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The Rams are trying out their newest talking points on the NFL’s most mysterious knee of 2018.

Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley runs against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, Feb. 3, 2019.
Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley runs against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, Feb. 3, 2019.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine set to begin in less than a week, we’re closing in on the next opportunity for Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay and General Manager Les Snead to talk to the media. No doubt, the primary line of questioning, at least for McVay, will revolve around RB Todd Gurley and his knee injury that affected his play over the final few games of the regular season and into the playoffs.

Today, the Rams are testing out some new talking points on the knee via NFL Network’s Steve Wyche. Suffice to say, they’re confusing...

Well Andrew, let’s clarify this right now. We haven’t heard from Todd Gurley about the knee since the Super Bowl, but leading up to the knee, I asked him specifically about the knee, and he said he is fine. There is no injury.

Ok, so I spoke to somebody last night who is close to the situation. Here’s how they broke it down.

There was no specific injury. Remember Week 12 against the [Kansas City] Chiefs, he aggravated the knee, ok? There was an aggravation right there. Something inflamed. They sat him out those final two games right there, but then he came back in the playoffs and he looked just fine.

So here’s how it was explained is that this was a wear and tear issue.

Todd Gurley had 315 touches, fourth-most of any player in the NFL and that’s sitting out two games. Since 2015, he’s had nearly 1,229 touches. That’s the most of any player.

So they said as the season wore on, that knee became a little bit worn down. Remember, that’s the knee he injured in college. So again, there was no specific injury. He was sore. He was feeling something right there, but when it came to the usage, it was not injury-related. This was more coaching decision-based in terms of the usage or lack thereof of Todd Gurley in those final two playoff games.

Well look, this is where the C.J. Anderson factor plays into this. As I was told by someone in the building, they weren’t expecting C.J. Anderson to do as well as they thought. They thought they were getting a guy off of the street who could pretty much hold things down and help protect Jared Goff as they got the offense rolling to finish out the season. They had already clinched a playoff berth. Then he comes in and hits for about [165 yards] against [the] Arizona [Cardinals]. Comes in and tags in the season finale. A total of almost 300 yards in the final two games.

So now, they’re like, “Ok, we’ve got an ideal complement to Todd Gurley. Let’s rest Todd Gurley a little bit and kind of save him in spots, because C.J. Anderson can play.”

As you mentioned against the [New Orleans] Saints, Gurley, he came out of the gate. He miscued. So Sean McVay went to Anderson, and said we’re gonna ride with the hot hand.

And then in the Super Bowl, it didn’t matter who carried the ball. What the [New England] Patriots did to the [Rams’] offensive line, they had no room to run.

Again, I want to enhance this.

Speaking to somebody again about this issue, Todd Gurley, this was a wear and tear issue. They are not saying he is damaged goods. They fully expect after the offseason for him to come back into training camp fresh and to do the things that he has done. It is up to the coaching staff to manage his touches a little bit more, because he has been getting a lot of usage since he’s been in the league, and they’ve gotta prolong his career possibly by bringing C.J. Anderson back or finding someone who can spell him because they’ve been riding him so hard.

It’s an interesting talking point to put out if only because I’m interested to hear how they plan to deconflict what seem to be mutually exclusive statements.

I’m fine with the suggestion that there was no “specific injury”, whatever that phrase is supposed to mean, but there’s something not jiving between the suggestion that there was a “wear and tear issue” and that his knee was “sore” with McVay’s allusion to Todd saying he was 100% just two days before the Super Bowl or Gurley himself saying he was “fine.”

There’s obviously a tough balance to work through here. Clearly, the Rams are trying to find the right messaging balance that acknowledges that Gurley wasn’t 100% without completely tossing McVay and Gurley on the grill for it.

If this is the last we hear about it ahead of the combine, expect to hear more next weekend.