McVay might hold QB Goff out of Rams’ third preseason game
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley hopes there will be a time when the NFL does away with preseason games entirely, saying that “everyone’s dream is not to play in the preseason.”
In the meantime, Gurley will have to settle for Rams coach Sean McVay making his dream come true.
McVay said he could hold quarterback Jared Goff out of the team’s third preseason game against Houston on Saturday, while also confirming Gurley, center John Sullivan and left tackle Andrew Whitworth will not play as a precaution.
McVay indicated earlier in the week that Goff would play, but that was before right tackle Rob Havenstein sustained a minor ankle injury in practice. McVay is understandably wary of playing Goff behind an offensive line missing three starters against a Texans pass rush that features Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt.
“When Rob tweaks his ankle, that definitely potentially alters it, especially when you’re talking about any team in general but specifically an excellent defense when you’re looking at guys like Watt and Clowney. I wouldn’t feel great about going against those guys without our line, but we’ll see what happens,” McVay said.
McVay has shown a propensity for caution in managing veteran players, going as far as holding out starters in Week 17 against San Francisco last season after winning the NFC West and securing a home playoff game. Outside linebacker Samson Ebukam and right guard Jamon Brown, who is suspended the first two games of the season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, are the only starters that played in the Rams’ first two preseason games.
Goff has no concerns if he goes into his third NFL season without playing a snap in the preseason. He appeared in three preseason games last year, McVay’s first season as head coach.
“Whatever they decide to do, I’m on board with. We got a lot of good work through training camp and through different situations that may come up this weekend that may happen, but I’m planning to play and we’ll see what happens,” Goff said.
Asked if he needed preseason games to get used to contact, Goff said, “I’ll get hit plenty this year. I’ll adjust to it eventually.”
The decision to hold out Gurley reflects the significant role he has in McVay’s offense. Gurley led the league with 2,093 yards from scrimmage and 19 combined touchdown runs and receptions, and his 343 total touches trailed only Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell and Buffalo’s LeSean McVoy.
Gurley’s workload has been light for most of the offseason and training camp, but he said that is changing as the Rams turn their focus toward their season opener at Oakland on Sept. 10.
McVay believes the right course of action is to be careful with Gurley, pointing to how effective he was over the course of last season even with his heavy usage.
“You definitely don’t want to take away from the value of the preseason, so I don’t want that to be misunderstood by any stretch, but that risk-reward and also being mindful of getting Todd as fresh as possible,” McVay said. “I think that’s one of the things last year that enabled him to sustain and really get stronger as the season progressed was what a good job he did taking care of himself, being mindful of just kind of his maintenance program throughout the course of the year, especially with all of his touches. And we feel like this is going to put him on that track, and that was more important to us.”