Maurice Jones-Drew: Todd Gurley Was Playing Through Knee Injury All SeasonJune 7, 2019
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley told former NFL rusher and current Rams radio analyst Maurice Jones-Drew he played through his knee injury for the entirety of the 2018 season.
On Friday, MJD provided details of his conversation with Gurley during an appearance on the NFL Network (via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk).
"Yes, he was banged up throughout the season. He got hurt in Week 1, played through it the rest of the season," Jones-Drew said. "He got banged up in Week 1, he played through it, and he kind of just got worn down toward the end of the season."
Gurley's health was one of the major storylines during the 2018 playoffs, including throughout the buildup to Super Bowl LIII, a 13-3 win for the New England Patriots over the Rams.
The 24-year-old University of Georgia product, who'd emerged as one of the league's most reliable workhorses across his first three-plus seasons, suddenly stopped getting touches. He got 18 in a Divisional Round win over the Dallas Cowboys and then just five in the NFC Championship Game triumph over the New Orleans Saints.
Although the Rams downplayed the severity of his knee problems leading up to the Super Bowl, it was clear something wasn't right as Gurley tallied just 10 carries and one catch against the Pats.
L.A. head coach Sean McVay continued to shy away from blaming an injury for the lack of involvement after the Super Bowl loss. He attributed it to wanting backup C.J. Anderson to play too.
"When you look at the overall work that a player of Todd's caliber got, it was in large part due to the fact that we had gone into the game saying we wanted to get both those guys involved," he told reporters. "And then as a result of us not being quite as efficient or not being able to convert on those third downs, it just limits those ops."
It's unclear whether the Rams could face NFL discipline related to the situation with Gurley saying he was hurt in Week 1 despite not being listed on the team's injury report until Week 16.
Regardless, the Baltimore native told Jones-Drew he's working with the franchise to maximize his potential impact in 2019.
"Todd has a plan to be ready throughout the course of the season," MJD said on the NFL Network. "They want to make sure they don't run Todd as much as they did last year and the year before, all the way to where he can't perform the last two games of the year."
The Rams will head into the season as one of the league's top title contenders, so pacing Gurley's touches so he's fresh for the playoffs should be a top priority. That'll lead to more opportunities for the likes of Malcolm Brown and rookie Darrell Henderson during the regular season.