Todd Gurley Jersey

ATLANTA — Running back Todd Gurley II made three things clear in his final news conference of the season from the Los Angeles Rams’ team headquarters.

“Y’all can call me hurt. Y’all can call me whatever, but we’re going to the Super Bowl,” Gurley said, when asked how difficult it was to watch much of the Rams’ thrilling overtime win over the New Orleans Saints from the sideline. “What do y’all not understand? It’s not about me. This sport has never been about me. It’s never been about one player.”

Rams coach Sean McVay had his own statement after the 26-23 overtime win over the New Orleans Saints.

“Any time that you have a player like Todd Gurley on your team, I’ve got to do a better job of getting him involved and getting him into the flow of the game,” McVay said. “That’s something that I have to be accountable for.”

As the Rams prepare to play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, Gurley said that he feels good and that the left knee injury that kept him out in Weeks 16 and 17 is no longer an issue.

“I’m fine, bro,” Gurley said. “We’ve been winning.”

Gurley knows what it’s like to be at the bottom. That’s what has made it easier to take all of this — including sharing time in the playoffs with veteran backup C.J. Anderson, who joined the team in mid-December — in stride.

“I’ve been 4-12, you know what I’m saying? Like, I’ve been broke,” Gurley said. “I got money. I’ve done had terrible seasons. I’m in the Super Bowl. It’s a blessing.”

Gurley, the defending NFL Offensive Player of the Year, said that he wouldn’t care if Jake McQuaide, the Rams’ long snapper, won Super Bowl MVP, and that he’d be fine if he didn’t play a snap on the biggest stage.

But to defeat five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and the Patriots at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, the Rams will need Gurley, who rushed for more than 100 yards in seven games this season, including the playoffs.

Gurley rushed for 1,251 yards in 14 regular-season games, sitting out the last two to rest his knee, and scored a league-best 21 touchdowns as the Rams finished the regular season 13-3 and clinched a second consecutive division title for the first time in 39 years.

When the Rams returned to L.A. after 21 seasons in St. Louis, Gurley was the organization’s most notable star. He arrived in Hollywood fresh off an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year season after he rushed for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns.

But as the Rams stumbled to a 4-12 finish in 2016, Gurley struggled. Former coach Jeff Fisher’s offense was sluggish, and Gurley was among the players who saw their numbers slide. After a late-season loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Gurley told reporters that the Rams looked like “a middle school offense,” and by the next morning Fisher had been fired. Gurley failed to rush for more than 100 yards in a single game that season.

When McVay arrived in L.A., Gurley became the focal point of his explosive scheme. As Jared Goff found his footing as a second-year quarterback, Gurley became the go-to playmaker and demonstrated his ability in the running game and as a pass-catcher.

“When you’ve got a player like Todd, you’re not limited in any way that you can use him,” McVay said, “any time that you have somebody that’s as versatile as he is that can really play all over the formation.”

Last season, Gurley rushed for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also caught 64 passes, including six for touchdowns, as the Rams clinched their first division title in 13 seasons.

Perhaps it should have come as little surprise that, on the eve of training camp this season, the Rams announced that Gurley had signed a four-year, $60 million extension, with $45 million guaranteed, making him the highest-paid running back in NFL history.

Gurley started the season fast and appeared poised to repeat as the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year, if not earning Most Valuable Player honors.

He rushed for more than 100 yards in two of the Rams’ first three games, then rushed for a career-best 208 yards against the Denver Broncos. He also was responsible for providing a late-game burst to secure a Week 13 victory over the Detroit Lions as the Rams clinched their second division title in two seasons.

But Gurley has not appeared the same since. He rushed for 28 yards in a loss to the Chicago Bears, followed by a 48-yard performance in a consecutive loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Against the Eagles, Gurley was sidelined for a series in the third quarter, and it was revealed after the game that he was dealing with inflammation and soreness in his left knee, which kept him out for the final two games of the regular season.

Enter Anderson. The Rams signed him after a series of injuries to their other running backs, including a clavicle injury that sent trusted backup Malcolm Brown to injured reserve and a shoulder injury that sidelined second-year pro Justin Davis.

Anderson, a sixth-year pro, became the surprise of the postseason. In the last year, he was cut by the Broncos, Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders. But then he rushed for a combined 299 yards in the Rams’ final two games of the regular season, against the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers, as Gurley watched from the sideline.

Gurley returned in the divisional round of the playoffs, and it was anticipated that he would return to his role as feature back, with a trusted backup in Anderson to take some of the load. But that’s not how it played out. Against the Cowboys, Anderson had more carries, more yards and more touchdowns than Gurley, as they combined for 238 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

In the NFC Championship Game, Gurley spent the majority of the game on the sideline after he made two uncharacteristic mistakes early. A pass went through his hands and was intercepted. Later, he let a wide-open third-down pass in the red zone bounce off his hands and fall incomplete. As the Rams battled for the overtime victory, Gurley remained on the sideline. Speculation grew about his knee injury, as he finished with 10 rushing yards, including a 6-yard touchdown. But Gurley said after the game that he was fine, and that he was “sorry as hell today… I was so sorry.”

As the Rams wrapped up their final practices of the season in Thousand Oaks, California, teammates expressed confidence that Gurley would return to form in the Super Bowl, reinforcing that there were no signs of discontent from their star playmaker.

“He wants his team to have success,” wide receiver Robert Woods said. “And I feel like as a team we all want him to have success. … He’s really just been a selfless teammate.”

Said receiver Brandin Cooks: “He’s focused, and he’s ready to go.”

Gurley appeared in good spirits after the final practice at the team facility, even as he left the locker room with his left knee heavily packed in ice. He again reiterated that his knee was “good.”

“If there was an issue on my knee, it would be on the injury report,” Gurley said. “Come on now. I’m at practice. I’m playing.”

After reiterating that it was his obligation to get Gurley going, McVay offered some foreshadowing.

“I’ve got a funny feeling he’s going to be ready to go and play a big role in this game,” McVay said.

As for Gurley’s prediction for his performance in the final game of the season?

“I don’t give a damn what I do, honestly,” Gurley said. “I just want to win.”

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — When the Baltimore Ravens released Eric Weddle, the veteran safety had a strong notion about where he wanted to go.

“I knew what L.A. brought and how I could fit,” Weddle said. “… You want to go there first and see if it’ll work out.”

Weddle, who previously played for the Chargers, traveled to the Los Angeles Rams’ headquarters before he visited any other teams, and never got the chance to think twice about returning to L.A. He signed a two-year contract on March 8.

It was a similar story for linebacker Clay Matthews, whom the Green Bay Packers did not re-sign after 10 seasons. “As soon as my chance to return to Green Bay was past me,” Matthews said, “then I knew I wanted to come to the Rams.” No visit necessary. Matthews, a Southern California native, agreed to a two-year deal.

“You look at the success and the organization, the way it’s transcending, it’s truly remarkable,” Matthews said. “So from a football standpoint it makes perfect sense.”

For the Rams, it makes perfect sense to pursue select veterans in free agency. They often come at a discounted price, or at minimum on a short-term deal, which relieves salary cap pressure when players the team has drafted earn big-time pay days. And the veterans can serve in complementary roles to a young, promising core that includes quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley II and defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Aaron Donald Jersey

A recent photo of Aaron Donald working out shows why the Los Angeles Rams star is considered one of the best in the league on defense.

No one needs to explain to the Los Angeles Rams just how great of a player Aaron Donald is since the former Pittsburgh star has been named Defensive Player of the Year two years in a row for a reason.

Despite all of the drama from the offseason in each of the last two years over his contract situation, the Rams finally rewarded Donald last August with a hefty six-year extension he clearly deserves to make sure he would be around for the long run.

So how did Donald perform during his first season under a new deal? Well, the fact that Donald set a career high of 20.5 sacks despite missing all of training camp and preseason shows what kind of work ethic he has, probably one of the best in the league.

Even this past week at the league meetings, Sean McVay discussed how Los Angeles was already considering a plan in regards to Donald for training camp, with the fact that he most likely wouldn’t need to play in preseason sticking out the most.

Clearly, if McVay and the Rams are willing to take an approach like this with Donald, they’re never going to be concerned over whether he’s staying in shape during the offseason.

In fact, when looking at a recent photo displayed by Donald himself on Instagram, this will only fire up football fans even more over what could be in store for the 2019 season.

Once again, Donald appears to be spending part of his offseason working out in Pittsburgh like preseasons, and one can only imagine some of the workouts he’s been doing to somehow elevate his game to a whole new level in 2019 to keep the Rams in solid shape on defense.

After losing to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 53 the way they did, Donald and the rest of his teammates will hopefully be motivated more than ever to make sure the team is in the best position possible to make another run with better results.

With Super Bowl 53 taking place about two months ago, Los Angeles Rams fans are still trying to figure out what exactly was going on with Todd Gurley and his knee towards the end of the regular season along with the playoffs.

Originally, Gurley’s knee injury appeared to be minor when the former Georgia star missed the final two games of the regular season, as this appeared to be the Rams just taking a safe approach with their beloved running back.

Even when Gurley returned to action for the Divisional Round contest against the Dallas Cowboys, there weren’t any concerns since the Pro Bowler looked like his usual self on offense, and looked ready to help carry Los Angeles to a Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots.

As Rams fans know, this was far from the case after watching Gurley be limited to just 10 rushing yards with a touchdown on four carries in the NFC Championship followed up by 35 rushing yards in the Super Bowl on only 10 carries.

Normally, a running back with Gurley’s set of skills would seem capable of handling anywhere from 20-30 carries in either contest.

So when Sean McVay and the Rams continued to push the narrative leading up to the Super Bowl that Gurley’s knee was completely fine, it was concerning to see the running back look like anything but himself in the two most important games of his NFL career.

Eventually, fans found out that Gurley was dealing with arthritis in his knee, but this update still didn’t provide them with the answers they had been looking for since McVay and the rest of the organization seemed to previously be keeping fans in the dark over what was really going on.

Heading into the month of April, Gurley’s knee is still one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the team, and while McVay joked this week at the league meetings about how he was done talking about the injury, deep down the head coach knows this topic isn’t going away anytime soon.

Until Gurley actually proves in a meaningful game there are no concerns about his knee, Rams fans and the media should be bugging McVay for updates, especially after seeing how the situation was handled in the winter during the playoffs.

Once again, Los Angeles will be entering the 2019 season as one of the early favorites to make a run at the Super Bowl in the NFC, but their chances could take a hit if Gurley isn’t at full strength.

Aaron Donald is coming off his second straight season winning Defensive Player of the Year, helping the Los Angeles Rams reach the Super Bowl. He etched his name into the record books along the way, recording the most sacks in team history and the most ever by a defensive tackle (20.5).

Most players would take some time off after the sort of campaign, but not Donald. He’s cut from a different cloth, and it’s why he’s arguably the best player in football. Since the end of the season, he’s been working out constantly, mostly back home in Pittsburgh.

On Friday, he showed everyone the results of his hard work. He shared a photo on Instagram of himself, Steelers running back James Conner, former Buccaneers defensive end Will Clarke and Bengals wideout Tyler Boyd.