Tyler Higbee Jersey

At the time of the 2016 NFL Draft, there were some critics that believed the Los Angeles Rams were making a mistake by giving up numerous picks in order to trade up in the first round with the Tennessee Titans to take Jared Goff at No. 1.

For years leading up to 2016, the Rams were in desperate need of help at the quarterback position, and went through numerous players that turned out to be complete busts, which was frustrating at times since the defense was in decent shape.

Gambling on Goff following a stellar career at California seemed risky at the time, but looking back, this was the best decision Los Angeles ever could have made since this team has become a serious threat in the NFC over the last two seasons.

Image result for Tyler Higbee

The Skinny: They traded up to land quarterback Jared Goff with the first overall pick, and that now is a move that has paid off in a big way — despite the way he played in the Super Bowl. He is their franchise passer. Their next pick came in the fourth round when they took tight end Tyler Higbee, who is a starter on their offense. They got little after that

How I did: I thought the move to land Goff was the right move, so I hit that one. I liked the pick of Higbee, but also liked fourth-round receiver Pharoah Cooper, but he is no longer with the team.

Prisco points out the obvious that trading up for Goff paid off in the biggest way possible for the Rams, and despite what took place in Super Bowl 53, there’s every reason in the world to feel confident in his ability to continue leading the offense moving forward.

As for some of the other picks, while it’s great to see Tyler Higbee continuing to look like a steal for Los Angeles, it is crazy to still think about how Pharoh Cooper is no longer with the team since he was a Pro Bowler during the 2017 season.

Based off his numbers since 2016 when he went 0-7 as a starter, it’s been amazing to watch Goff get better with experience over the years for the Rams, as getting the chance to work with Sean McVay has been the best thing to happen to his career.

Plus, if Goff ever helps Los Angeles secure a Super Bowl title or two over the next couple of years, maybe the grade will eventually improve from a B+ to an A- or A.

Brandin Cooks continued his consistent ways in 2018, posting his fourth straight season with at least 65 catches and 1,000 yards. It was his first of many years with the Los Angeles Rams, meeting (and exceeding) just about every expectation he faced when he was traded by the Patriots.

Jared Goff targeted Cooks frequently throughout the season, throwing 117 passes his way. More often than not, Cooks came down with receptions, producing an excellent passer rating for Goff.

According to Pro Football Focus, Cooks thrived on three particular routes: corners, posts and screens. On corner routes, he produced a perfect passer rating of 158.3, which was tied for Austin Hooper for the best in the NFL.

On post routes, Cooks’ rating was 143.9, second only behind Jordy Nelson (155.8). With his speed, he was able to get behind the defense and break open for Goff on several occasions. His quickness was also deadly on screen passes, which he produced a rating of 127.4 on – second in the NFL behind Christian Kirk (136.7).

Cooks wasn’t the only Rams player to get recognized by PFF on this list. Tyler Higbee surprisingly made an appearance, leading the league on quick outs. He produced a passer rating of 143.3 on such routes.

That’s not to say they won’t be looking for offensive playmakers, too, as McVay said this week.

“I think when you go back and you look at our tape and say, ‘Alright where are some areas that we could be better as coaches, starting out, but what are some of the nuances from a skill set that we are looking for, whether it’s from a receiver, tight end, or running back?’” McVay said, via the team’s official site. “In a lot of instances it’s playmakers and guys that can do different things and have a versatile skill set whether it be running back, tight end, or receiver.”

Assuming Todd Gurley is healthy, running back isn’t a pressing need – especially with Malcolm Brown set to return as a restricted free agent. C.J. Anderson is a candidate to return, too, but he hasn’t received an offer from the Rams, or any other team, for that matter.

The wide receiver unit is rich with talent thanks to Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp – who are all backed up by Josh Reynolds – while Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee are the top two tight ends. It’d be unusual to see the Rams address any of these needs with the 31st overall pick, but don’t rule out a selection or two being used on offense.

Jared Goff Jersey

Sooner or later, the Los Angeles Rams will need to decide on Jared Goff’s next contract.

After looking at all of the extensions handed out to key players last offseason by the Los Angeles Rams, Jared Goff knew that it was only a matter of time before the team most likely rewarded him for his stellar play.

Despite some of the concerns early on in his career, Goff seems to get better with experience each season, and after the Rams came up short in Super Bowl 53, all eyes will be on the former No. 1 pick to see if he can help the team make another run.

Image result for Jared Goff

Of course, whether Goff’s contract situation will end up being a distraction is a different story since Sean McVay already hinted in March that Los Angeles was leaning towards holding off for now, which arguably seems fair.

Even if Goff’s fifth-year option for 2020 gets picked up as expected, the Rams realize they will need to strongly consider an extension at some point over the next year or so. And if the team decides to wait it out a bit while other top quarterbacks across the league up for new deals, this could give Goff a little leverage in the negotiation process down the road.

Until Goff’s next deal becomes official, this is going to be a topic that Los Angeles may not be able to escape, and it will be interesting to see what some of the other quarterbacks looking for new deals end up earning as well since they could play a factor for the Rams as well.

One of the most recent success stories in the NFL resides in Los Angeles, where Jared Goff was introduced to Sean McVay, and a QB that was once thought to be a bust turned into an NFC Championship winning quarterback for the Rams.

Now, that story arc is getting proposed for second-year QB Josh Rosen, and this time it’s Washington Redskins’ coach Jay Gruden that holds the secret key to unlocking loads of talent not yet realized inside of a young QB.

After getting drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the 10th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Rosen underwent a grueling rookie season that saw him thrown into the fire behind a makeshift offensive line and an offensive coordinator who was given the ax midway through the season.

As a result, Rosen — who was once thought to be the best QB in a 2018 draft class that was ripe with QB talent — finished the year with 11 TD, 14 INT and a 66.7 QBR. Not great.

However, as speculation has emerged that the Cardinals might pair Heisman-winning QB Kyler Murray with new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, many are wondering what this would mean for Rosen.

A Redskins-Cardinals trade for Rosen has been floated, and the motivations behind it check out. Washington has had a tumultuous past with QB’s and they are seemingly looking for a young signal-caller to groom behind Case Keenum, who they acquired via trade earlier this year. Likewise, should the Cardinals go the Murray route, then they would have a young QB with loads of upside sitting on their roster getting reps with the second-team. Should Arizona choose to treat Rosen as a trade chip, and the Redskins meet their asking price, everybody wins.

If Rosen were to make the move to D.C. and spend time learning from both Gruden and Keenum, there is a very real possibility that he blooms into a gun-slinger to the likes of Goff. It’s possible that Gruden has the coaching abilities to bring the best out of Rosen, now it’s just a matter of whether or not he will get the chance.

Sean McVay continues to be a hot topic among NFL discussions. Since joining the Rams in 2017, the Rams have a record of 24-8 and reached his first Super Bowl in 2018.

McVay has worked wonders for Jared Goff and the Rams as a whole. Goff had the potential to be great and someone like McVay is able to unlock his potential.

Each and every season, the Rams improve on the offensive side of the ball in different areas. In 2018, Los Angeles ranked second in scoring offense and second in total yards of offense.

Teams across the NFL are yearning to find their own version of McVay, whether it be one of his assistant coaches or a young offensive mind. McVay’s imprint on the NFL moving forward has already been made.

Nonetheless, Gurley seems to be doing a lot better now and is set to make a healthy return in 2019. Even with missing two games in 2018, Gurley finished with 1,831 yards from scrimmage and 21 total touchdowns (career-high).

Another unfortunate injury that occurred during the regular season was the one to Cooper Kupp. Kupp was a vital part of the Rams’ high-octane offense.

Every quarterback in the NFL has their “security blanket” and if anyone would be considered Goff’s security blanket it would be Kupp. The young wideout does most of his damage out of the slot position and was excelling alongside Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods.

Before he tore his ACL in Week 10, Kupp was on pace for a 1,000-yard season. In eight starts in 2018, Kupp had 40 receptions, 566 yards, and six touchdowns.

The Rams could’ve had three 1,000-yard receivers on their team. That would’ve been only the sixth time that a team had a trio of wideouts surpass 1,000 yards each.

Samson Ebukam Jersey

Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam underwent minor knee surgery after the season, and he is expected to be brought along slowly during offseason workouts so that he will be back to full speed by training camp, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Ebukam, a fourth-round draft pick from Eastern Washington in 2017, started at outside linebacker last season. He made 40 tackles, six for losses, and had two sacks. In the Rams’ 54-51 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, Ebukam returned an interception and a fumble for touchdowns.

The Rams re-signed Dante Fowler to a one-year contract that could be worth $12 million, according to overthecap.com.

Image result for Samson Ebukam

And on Tuesday, they signed veteran Clay Matthews to a two-year contract. Terms were not disclosed. Matthews, who will turn 33 in May, amassed 83½ career sacks during 10 seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He is scheduled to be introduced at a news conference Thursday.

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Trevon Young are expected to get extended opportunities during offseason workouts and organized team activities.

The Los Angeles Rams entered the offseason needing to bolster their outside pass rush. Samson Ebukam fell short of expectations in 2018 and Dante Fowler Jr. was set to become a free agent. They locked up Fowler before he hit the open market, but they also added a proven veteran in Clay Matthews.

The all-time leader in sacks for the Packers will play multiple positions for the Rams, switching between inside and outside linebacker. His pass-rushing skills have fallen off in recent years, but he’s confident he can still be an impact player.

One area of his game that gets somewhat overlooked is his coverage ability. He was asked to drop into coverage plenty in Green Bay, and it’s easy to see why. He’s adept at retreating and covering ground in the middle, using his athleticism to make throws difficult for quarterbacks.

Pro Football Focus shared some stats about Matthews’ coverage skills over the past decade, showing how capable he is when dropping back.

After a decade with the Green Bay Packers, linebacker Clay Matthews has agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Rams on a two-year contract, the team announced Tuesday.

Matthews, who grew up in Southern California and walked on at USC, signaled his return to Los Angeles on his Twitter account.

The Packers’ career sack leader with 83.5, Matthews registered only 3.5 sacks last season, the lowest single-season total of his career. That was despite his playing in all 16 games in the final season of a five-year, $66 million contract.

“We want to thank Clay for all that he has contributed to the Packers over the past 10 seasons. As the franchise’s all-time sack leader and an integral part of Green Bay’s Super Bowl XLV championship, he will be remembered as one of the greatest players in the history of the organization,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said in a statement. “Clay will always be a member of the Packers family. We wish him, his wife, Casey, and the rest of their family all the best moving forward.”

Matthews, 32, joins a position group that includes outside linebackers Dante Fowler, who signed a one-year “prove it” deal worth up to $12 million before the start of free agency, and Samson Ebukam. The Rams also return starting inside linebacker Cory Littleton, who received a second-round tender after he led the team with 90 tackles and intercepted three passes, returning one for a touchdown, last season.

Although he primarily played outside linebacker and edge rusher, Matthews spent parts of the 2014 and 2015 seasons as an inside linebacker, which likely was a key factor in the Rams’ decision to sign him. The Rams recently released veteran inside linebacker Mark Barron and saved $6.33 million in their salary cap, but Barron’s departure left a significant hole in the defense.

Rams general manager Les Snead said last week that second-year pro Micah Kiser could be called upon to step into the role, but that the team would continue to explore options in free agency and the draft.

Despite his dip in production last season, Matthews can still be effective. According to ESPN’s pass rush win rate using NFL Next Gen Stats, he beat his block within 2.5 seconds on 26 percent of rushes in 2018, 27th among 91 players with 300 rushes.

A 2009 first-round pick (26th overall), Matthews made the Pro Bowl six times in his first nine seasons. He was a first-team All-Pro in 2010, when he was the runner-up to Steelers safety Troy Polamalu for Defensive Player of the Year.

Matthews has 11 sacks in 15 career playoff games, the most in Packers postseason history and tied for fifth in NFL playoff history.

Matthews is the fourth player to sign with the Rams in free agency. Along with Matthews and Fowler, the Rams also signed veteran safety Eric Weddle to a two-year deal worth up to $12.28 million and quarterback Blake Bortles to a one-year deal to back up Jared Goff.

John Johnson Jersey

Minutes after head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead introduced safety Eric Weddle to the Los Angeles media, the pair left the media room at the Rams practice facility in Thousand Oaks, Calif. as their rising third-year safety entered.

“We had been texting, we talked a lot, just getting to know him a little bit,” safety John Johnson told reporters after sharing a fairly staged handshake with Weddle in front of the podium backdrop, providing the opportunity for cameras to capture the moment.

“He said he was going to be up here today, so I came up here,” Johnson added.

Related image

A text message brought the budding star to the Rams practice facility to meet Weddle on Tuesday morning, but it wasn’t the first time the pair had spoken.

“I reached out to ‘JJ’ as soon as I signed here and just let him know, ‘Can’t wait to get to work with him.’ You know, the same stuff. Just excited for him. I’ve watched a lot of games. I stole McVay’s iPad when I signed here so I could watch some film,” Weddle said. “He’s pumped. We all are.”

And while Johnson admitted to not following Weddle’s most recent three seasons in Baltimore as closely as the six-time Pro Bowler’s days in San Diego — perhaps a result of launching his own professional career — he was able to break down his new teammate’s skillset, after recalling watching No. 32 with the Bolts back in high school and even middle school.

“He’s just an all-around player, he can do it all,” Johnson said. “He blitzes, he can cover, he can play the middle post, so he can do it all — and that’s something that I like doing, I pride myself on, is doing it all. So it will be a good mix of everything.”

And Weddle likely agrees, or at least that’s what the smile that came across his face suggested when his head coach sat next to him and listed the names that now grace coordinator Wade Phillips’ secondary.

Johnson, cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters — Nickell Robey-Coleman — and now Weddle.

“[T]hose are five instinctual players that I know our DB coaches in the back are excited to get to work with them — with [cornerbacks coach] Aubrey [Pleasant] and [safeties] coach [Ejiro] Evero. It’s a very good day for the Rams and glad to have our guy Eric with us,” McVay said.

“Oh he fits right in. He’s his own guy, his own personality, he won’t hide it,” Johnson said, after rocking multiple hair colors in 2018. “Like you said, he’s got a beard thing going on, hopefully he grows it back out. I think he fits right in with the personalities that we already have.”

Eric Weddle has more experience than most safeties currently in the NFL, racking up 12 years of experience as a pro. He’s played in a few different schemes with a variety of players, but he loves his fit with the Los Angeles Rams.

He’s thrilled to be in a scheme he’s comfortable playing, one that allows him to best utilize his instincts and route recognition. Playing alongside guys like John Johnson III, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib is an added bonus, too, which makes Weddle even more excited about joining the Rams.

At his introductory press conference on Tuesday, he talked about getting to play with those defensive backs and told reporters that he stole Sean McVay’s iPad so he could watch film on Johnson.

“I reached out to ‘JJ’ as soon as I signed here and just let him know, ‘Can’t wait to get to work with him.’ You know, the same stuff. Just excited for him,” Weddle said. “I’ve watched a lot of games. I stole McVay’s iPad when I signed here so I could watch some film. He’s pumped. We all are. We have a great opportunity, but it doesn’t matter if we don’t work. I’ve been a part of some great defenses and great secondaries, and you think you’ll become something, but it doesn’t happen if you don’t give it all you’ve got to it. I’ve reached out to those guys. I can’t wait to work with them. It’s going to be a great offseason and a great season.”

“Obviously, me and Aqib have had our battles on the field – Marcus, too,” Weddle said. “Then the Pro Bowls, visiting and hanging out. The Pro Bowls are a very unique dynamic you get amongst your peers. It’s really, your guard’s down. You really get to know the guy. I’ve really made a lot of friends at the Pro Bowl that will last a lifetime for that reason. You hope everyone gets to experience it for that reason.”

There’s a great deal of potential in the Rams’ secondary, and a whole lot of personality, too. It’s going to be a fun unit to watch.

Cooper Kupp Jersey

Cooper Kupp immediately became a fan favorite in L.A. when he was selected by the Rams in the third round of the 2017 draft. He was viewed as a steal at that point in the draft and by every measure, he’s proved that sentiment right.

In 23 career games, he already has 102 catches for 1,435 yards and 11 touchdowns. Those numbers are even more impressive when considering he missed half the 2018 season with a knee injury, tearing his ACL in Week 10 against the Seahawks. It was a significant blow to the Rams offense and his absence was felt in their Super Bowl LIII loss.

He’s currently rehabbing his surgically repaired knee and is on track to be ready for training camp. In the premiere of “Behind the Grind” Season 2 – the Rams’ mini-docuseries – we get a behind-the-scenes look at Kupp’s rehab.

The episode also looks back at the Rams’ postseason run to the Super Bowl, the hiring of Wade Phillips’ son, Wes, as their tight ends coach, all the happenings from the NFL combine and more.

Additionally, there are some flashbacks to Sean McVay’s high school days with interviews from friends and his former head coach.

The Los Angeles Rams can’t wait for Cooper Kupp to be healthy enough to return to the lineup for the 2019 season after suffering a torn ACL in 2018.

Back in 2017, the Los Angeles Rams felt confident enough in landing a steal during the NFL Draft when they selected Cooper Kupp, even if there were some concerns over the wideout playing college football at a smaller school in Eastern Washington.

Two years later, and it’s safe to say that most teams across the league wish they took a harder look at Kupp like the Rams did since he’s become quite a reliable option as the No. 3 wideout for the offense.

Unfortunately, Kupp’s sophomore campaign came to an end earlier than expected after he suffered a torn ACL in November, leaving Los Angeles in position where they were forced to rely on Josh Reynolds to help fill the void.

While Reynolds deserves credit for filling in the way he did, and coming through with a few key performances, his impact still wasn’t anywhere close to what Kupp normally brings to the table.

Would the Rams have ended up winning the Super Bowl instead of the New England Patriots if Kupp were healthy enough to play? It’s tough to make the case since Los Angeles looked horrendous on offense during that contest, but also this was another example of just how much they missed Kupp in the passing game.

It’s the three-letter acronym that runs through the middle of the knee and ran through the mind of L.A.’s budding star wide receiver Cooper Kupp after his seven-step post route went wrong as he challenged Seahawks corner Shaquill Griffin into the red zone Week 10.

“ACL is just a term in sports that — everyone knows about it — they know the implications of it,” Kupp said, well-framed and looking just right of the camera in episode one of theRams.com’s Behind the Grind season two.

“Griffin was on the outside, so I kind of tried to burst him vertical because he was kind of sitting on the route, burst him vertical and get him going, and as soon as I put my foot in the ground, he was able to kind of collision me a little bit and — leg hit the ground and it obviously didn’t feel good. Something was wrong.”

Kupp was writhing on the L.A. Coliseum’s turf, accompanied by Rams trainers and his head coach. It wasn’t his aggravated MCL from Week 6 in Denver — it wasn’t a lingering bone bruise.

It was a torn ACL and the end of Kupp’s second professional season. The 9-1 Rams turned to Kansas City on Monday Night Football with their dangerous pass-catching trio of Kupp, Brandin Cooks, and Robert Woods dwindled to a duo. Kupp’s final 2018 statline read: 40 receptions, 566 yards, and a career-high six touchdowns — in eight games.

“So as you go through that moving forward — ‘How can I get this thing right?’” Kupp interrupted himself, before answering with his next breath.

“As you are moving forward, it’s never looking back.”

Four months since his left ACL was surgically repaired, Kupp moves around the Rams’ weight room in Thousand Oaks, Calif. with comfort — almost as if he’s been in the weight room for four months.

He’s taking on the facility’s machinery, dumbbells, and barbells with focus. The 6-foot-2, 208-pound Eastern Washington product has missed out on practices, meetings, game days, and a run at the Lombardi Trophy with his teammates, but he’s hardly left the weight room.

Not long after the non-contact injury in November, Kupp was back to work. He requested workouts from team doctor Reggie Scott and committed to a season with a different brand of teammates in rehabilitation/athletic training assistant Byron Cunningham, and assistant strength and conditioning coach Dustin Woods.

High-energy workouts and upper-body attention have kept Kupp’s football-fueled heart rate pumping and seem to have added to his slot-receiver frame since the November 11th injury. He’s dedicated year two to year three, but at the four-month mark and just a month past Super Bowl LIII, he’s turned a page.

“I feel good. I don’t think we like to talk about being on pace or off pace, ahead or behind or anything like that, but I think I’m where I’m supposed to be,” Kupp said, after decleating for just the third time since mid November. “Now, to get back on the field and put cleats on for the first time since the injury, it feels like it really just kind of refreshes things and gives me some new motivation to be able to go attack this thing.”

“I wouldn’t necessarily say he is on time or on pace. Kupp is right where he needs to be,” Cunningham said after Kupp’s third day running since the injury. “He’s doing a phenomenal job with his rehab. He’s a great listener, pays attention to detail and he’s a hard worker and that makes my job so much easier.”

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.