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Rams’ Gurley expects to play, with Anderson ready to step in

December 21, 2018

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley expects to play against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in spite of a knee injury.

If the game was earlier, however, Gurley wasn’t quite as certain about his status.

“I haven’t tried to run so, yeah, that’s a tough question,” Gurley said Thursday night.

Gurley did not practice Thursday as he deals with inflammation in his knee that flared up in the 30-23 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday night. Gurley, who leads the NFL with 21 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns, does not expect to practice before the Rams travel to Arizona.

However, Gurley was adamant he would play provided he gets medical clearance to do so.

“We got a game to win, and I’m pretty sure me being out there, if I can be out there, I would put this team in a good position to help them win,” Gurley said. “So why wouldn’t I be out there, you know, if I can play? That’s what we are trying to do. We’re trying to win.”

Coach Sean McVay said Wednesday he would consider resting Gurley to make sure the second-leading runner in the league with 1,251 yards rushing is available for the playoffs, as the Rams (11-3) have already won the NFC West.

That is not acceptable to Gurley, not with the team on a two-game losing streak and still trying to secure a first-round bye.

“We’re not worried about three weeks from now,” Gurley said. “We’re worried about this week.”

At the same time, Gurley said he would not jeopardize his health by playing if he did not feel comfortable.

“I’m not going to tell those guys I’m fine when I’m not, you know,” Gurley said. “If you go out there (like that you) could risk something else, so it’s a two-way street. That’s why we communicate.”

Complicating Gurley’s situation is the availability of Justin Davis, the second-year running back from Southern California who sustained a shoulder injury against the Eagles while backing up Gurley.

Davis also missed practice Thursday, which left C.J. Anderson and John Kelly as the only running backs available. Anderson signed with the Rams on Tuesday, and the rookie Kelly has two career carries for four yards.

A 1,000-yard rusher for Denver in 2017, Anderson helped the Broncos to appearances in Super Bowl 48 and 50. Anderson rushed for 90 yards and one touchdown in the 24-10 win over Carolina in Super Bowl 50.

“He’s one of the reasons I have a Super Bowl ring,” said Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who held the same position with Denver during the 2015 season.

Anderson was waived by the Panthers on Nov. 12 after rushing for 104 yards and no touchdowns in nine games. He signed a one-year contract with Carolina in May. Anderson signed with Oakland on Dec. 4 but was released one week later without appearing in a game.

In spite of his lack of familiarity with the Rams offense and limited production this season, the six-year veteran Anderson was confident he would be able to contribute if Gurley does not play.

“The game don’t change,” Anderson said. “What I see and what I do and how I prepare, that’s never changed. It hasn’t changed since I was in Carolina. Gruden, I was ready to play that Sunday if he needed me that Sunday when I was in Oakland, and it doesn’t change here. It’s how you are as a player. I love the game, I love putting in work, I love learning. I want all these guys to know they can count on 35 when I’m out there.”

Anderson said the Rams’ scheme is similar to what he ran in Denver for coach Gary Kubiak and the extensive reps he got in practice Thursday were helping him get up to speed quickly. Gurley said it would help that Anderson had to learn the plays needed against the Cardinals (3-11) and not the entire playbook.

Still, Gurley plans to take pressure off Anderson by handling his usual role.

“I’m here to play ball,” Gurley said.

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