Todd Gurley’s trainer Travelle Gaines confirmed to CBS Sports that his client is dealing with an “arthritic component to his knee,” but stressed that Gurley will be ready for the 2019 season.
“Everybody knew when Todd came out of Georgia that there would be some kind of arthritic component to his knee, which is part of every surgery whether it’s a shoulder, a knee, an ankle,” Gaines said late last week. “He’s now at the year-five mark, all we’re doing is managing that. If we can pound him less in the offseason while keeping his weight down, working on his strength, working on his agility in short areas, that’s going to give him a better chance to be healthy Weeks 14 through 17 when they really count.”
When asked about Gurley losing touches, potentially to new rookie Darrell Henderson, Gaines expressed optimism.
“It’s never been told to me that there’s a plan to decrease his workload come Week 1,” Gaines said. “At the end of the day, you need solid running backs, and they grabbed a home-run running back in the third round. … If you watched the games last year, Todd typically sat out two to three series last year. I don’t see anything changing with that, so you need a back who can catch, and I believe Darrell averaged around 9.0 yards per carry, a home-run type guy.”
Gurley tore his left ACL while at Georgia in 2014. Though he recovered fully and went on to post All-Pro caliber campaigns in 2017 and 2018, he seemed to deal with some kind of problem related to the knee last December. Gurley missed the final two games of the regular season and played sparingly in the playoffs, including a 10-carry, 35-yard outing versus the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.
The Athletic reported in March that Gurley was dealing with arthritis, but that was never confirmed by the team or by Gurley. Rams head coach Sean McVay has only discussed a plan put in place for Gurley to follow this offseason, noting as recently as last week that Gurley “looks good” after doing “some things over here that we thought would be good from a maintenance standpoint.”
Those things aren’t actually anything different than what Gurley’s been doing during each of the last three offseasons since Gaines became Gurley’s trainer in Los Angeles.
“Not one thing has changed,” said Gaines, who owns and operates his own performance training center, Athletic Gaines, in Los Angeles. “Our routine has worked, he’s been strong, he’s been in great shape, he’s done well.
“He got a little tired toward the end of last year because he was carrying the ball a lot. Could he have played last year? Yeah, but when you already have the division and seeding clinched, what was the point?”
NFL Network reported in late May that Gurley intended to lose about six pounds after playing at 224 pounds last year. Gaines shot down rumors that the weight loss had to do with his knee.
“It was a collective decision for him to play a little lighter this year, not because of injuries, just because I just feel he’s one of the faster players in the league,” Gaines said. “He doesn’t have to play at 224. 218 is only six pounds less, so I wanted to decrease his body fat a little bit and get him to the point where he’s a tad smaller so he can be a tad faster and a little bit bigger from a lean muscle mass standpoint. He’s going from basically 10 percent body fat to 7 percent body fat.”
Ultimately, Gurley did not participate in any offseason workouts or minicamp practices with the Rams. Gaines believes the reason for that was obvious.
“Todd was paid $60 million over four years and the Rams want to get every dime out of that contract,” he said. “So what good is it to pound him in April and May when you need him in November, December and January?”
The plan, per Gaines, is to spend all of July ramping up Gurley’s work away from the field so that he can participate in training camp. And after that?
“Todd is asked to do a lot in that offense, so to preserve him as much as possible is what the goal of the game is,” he said. “Their sports science department and sports medicine department are made up of very sharp individuals, so whatever they subscribe and ask me to help out with to do with Todd as Todd’s with me every single day, I’m going to do it. I think the Rams have a great formula and are a phenomenal franchise.”
The Rams didn’t use Gurley in any preseason games last year, something Gaines expects to happen again this fall.
The team may also have a couple of joint practices with other teams but it’s not clear if Gurley will partake in those or be held out.