CARSON — Nobody tackled. Nobody tackled. It’s early, and nobody tackled, but the Rams’ Todd Gurley looked good against an opposing defense, and that’s the first time anyone has said that in a while.
The Rams and Chargers held a joint training-camp practice Saturday at StubHub Center, and while Gurley rested on the sideline at the end — no need to sprain an ankle in early August — Gurley broke a couple impressive runs early in practice and looked far different from the frustrated running back of 2016.
“I thought you saw a violent runner,” Coach Sean McVay said of Gurley. “He did a great job getting out into the open field.”
No official stats were kept during the 2-hour, 30-minute practice, which included various drills in which the Rams and Chargers went head to head, and agreed-upon rules meant there was no hard hitting.
Still, tackling or not, Gurley looked strong. Early in the initial 11-on-11 drill, Gurley broke off what, in a normal situation, would have been about a 40-yard run. Then, in a red-zone drill, Gurley started to take a run inside, then quickly bounced to his left and ran to the pylon for a 12-yard touchdown.
It’s too early — a week before the first of four preseason games — to pronounce Gurley as a bounce-back star, but given how things went for him in 2016, any positives are notable.
Expected to be one of the NFL’s most prolific backs a year ago, after a stellar rookie season in 2015, Gurley totaled just 885 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games and averaged just 3.2 yards per carry. Clearly, the Rams’ struggles on the offensive line and the passing game didn’t make things any easier for Gurley.
Now, even though much of the attention in McVay’s new offense has gone to quarterback Jared Goff, Gurley quietly has put together a strong training camp in which he looks energized.
And, according to McVay, with an violent running style. That’s a good thing, right?
“Yeah,” Gurley said. “I’ll take that all day. We’ve just got to keep working, coming out here and getting better, but I felt like it was a pretty good day.”
The Rams have been careful with Gurley, in terms of contact, and will continue to do so throughout camp, in large part because his projected backup, Lance Dunbar, has yet to participate in a camp practice because of a knee injury.
Malcolm Brown has emerged as a potential solid backup, but nobody on the Rams’ roster can match Gurley’s talent, and that’s not just limited to…