Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley's role reportedly may be lessened moving forward because of looming concerns about his left knee.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Rams intend to lighten his load and work the likes of rookie third-round pick Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown, Justin Davis and John Kelly into the mix more:
"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. 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."
Gurley missed the final two games of the 2018 regular season with a knee injury, and he largely struggled during L.A.'s playoff run to Super Bowl LIII.
Although he rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown in an NFC Divisional Round win over the Dallas Cowboys, he touched the ball only five times in the NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints and rushed just 10 times for 35 yards in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots.
Despite joining the team late in the season, veteran C.J. Anderson was head coach Sean McVay's preferred option at running back for extended stretches during the playoffs.
Prior to the injury last season, Gurley enjoyed another huge campaign, as he rushed for 1,251 yards and an NFL-leading 17 touchdowns while catching 59 passes for 580 yards and four additional scores.
It was a strong followup to his near-MVP season in 2017, when he finished with 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground plus 64 grabs for 788 yards and six touchdowns as a receiver.
McVay told reporters Monday:
"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. 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."
So far this offseason, Gurley has skipped on-field workouts in favor of a "planned training program," per NFL Network's Jeremy Bergman.
When Gurley entered the NFL as No. 10 pick out of Georgia in 2015, he was coming off a torn ACL. Even so, he managed to rush for over 1,100 yards in 13 games as a rookie. His production dropped off drastically in his second season, but he has been a star ever since.
With the Rams improving the depth behind Gurley and boasting a dangerous passing attack led by quarterback Jared Goff, McVay can afford to get more creative during the upcoming season to keep Gurley fresh.