Gurley is the NFL’s second-leading rusher with 1,251 yards, and he leads the league with 21 touchdowns. He is fourth with 1,831 total yards from scrimmage after leading the NFL last season when he was the AP’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Gurley will miss the final two games of the regular season after sitting out last week’s win at Arizona, but McVay says he isn’t concerned about the star running back’s availability for the playoffs. While Gurley wasn’t ready to declare himself out for another week when he spoke to the media Thursday night, the Rams decided to be careful.
“I think he understands his body better than anybody else,” McVay said. “I don’t get the sense that he’s concerned, but we want to be smart about this. If it’s feeling like something where he’s not going to be able to be the Todd Gurley that we’re accustomed to seeing, just based on the way that that thing is feeling, the smart thing for him, No. 1, and for our football team is to be able to rest him and get him back as quickly as possible.”
Gurley rushed for just 76 combined yards in his past two games earlier this month, and he appeared to be moving gingerly at times. He couldn’t identify a specific play on which he was injured, saying he just felt “something wasn’t right” during the Rams’ loss to Philadelphia on Dec. 16.
C.J. Anderson is likely to be Gurley’s primary replacement again this week against the 49ers. The longtime Denver running back joined the Rams last week and immediately thrived, rushing for 167 yards and a touchdown in a 31-9 victory over the Cardinals last Sunday.
Gurley participated in pregame warmups at Arizona. He said he could have played, but wasn’t sure how effective he would have been.
Knee pain has stalked Gurley for months — no surprise given his heavy workload. After sitting out the entire preseason, Gurley also felt pain in his knee after the Rams’ season-opening win at Oakland back in September — and that was worse, he claimed.
“It was bad,” Gurley said with a laugh. “I was contemplating on giving the Rams back their money and everything.”
That win over the Raiders was Gurley’s first game after agreeing to a four-year, $60 million contract extension through 2023 at the start of training camp, making him the NFL’s highest-paid running back with $45 million guaranteed.
The Rams won’t have any concrete idea about Gurley’s playoff availability until next week, but McVay is cautiously optimistic he will be back to full strength.
“I would think so, but if you said a couple weeks ago that we would have to hold him out for the last two weeks, I probably would have been surprised about that,” McVay said. “But based on the information that we’re getting, there isn’t any reason for us to press the panic button or think that he won’t be available.”
Joyner has started all 15 games for Los Angeles while playing more than 95 percent of the Rams’ defensive snaps, but he has an ankle injury. He is the Rams’ third-leading tackler with 78, along with one interception.
Backup defensive backs Blake Countess and Marqui Christian will play extensively in Joyner’s absence, McVay said.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL