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Gurley Enjoying Involvement as a Receiver

Posted Jan 3, 2018

RB Todd Gurley leads the league in yards from scrimmage and total touchdowns, in large part because he also leads L.A. in receptions.

By now you’ve likely heard that running back Todd Gurley is a candidate for the league’s Most Valuable Player award.

And you might also be aware that Gurley finished the season No. 1 in yards from scrimmage (2,093), No. 1 in total touchdowns (19), No. 1 in rushing touchdowns (13), and No. 2 in yards rushing (1,305).

While the title “running back” indicates a player’s primary responsibility will be taking carries, Gurley has clearly done so much more for Los Angeles in 2017.

The third-year pro finished the year leading the Rams in receptions (62), and second on the team in both yards receiving (788) and receiving touchdowns (six).

Gurley had shown signs of being a strong receiver before, having caught 37 passes for 441 yards and six touchdowns in his sophomore season at Georgia. But he hand’t really shown this kind of a ability in the NFL to this point.

But when asked on Wednesday if he knew he had this kind of receiving prowess within him, Gurley kept it pretty simple.

“I’ve been playing football my whole life. I don’t see how hard it is just to catch a pigskin coming your way,” he said. “And you’ve got gloves — so I mean if you can’t do that you don’t need to be playing football.”

Gurley — admittedly still a bit hoarse from cheering on Georgia at the Rose Bowl on Monday — pointed out that getting more involved in the passing game is a lot of times about getting the ball in space.

“It’s easier to make one or two guys miss than running the ball with 11 people coming to tackle you,” he said.

But there was a bit of an unknown factor when it came to Gurley as a receiver. But given how significant he’s been with that in head coach Sean McVay’s scheme, he’s plenty comfortable in the role now.

“Obviously the more balls you get, just keep getting thrown at you, the more you’re going to get comfortable with it. Any ball that comes my way now, I feel like I can catch,” Gurley said. “You know, if you don’t catch the ball the obviously you don’t know how good of a catcher you can be. But coach McVay and just the whole offense this year defiantly helped me to bring that to my game this year.”

“Just him coming in and adding that into my game, and me wanting to be able to be coachable and him doing a great job of coaching me — that just all came together and we’ve been able to get some catches in this year, honestly,” Gurley added. “It’s been going well, so hopefully we can keep that up.”

And the running back said he’s been having fun doing it.

“I’m always back there and I’m looking – it’s a stacked box and I’m like, ‘Oh snaps,’” Gurley said. “Even the runs that do work out, your still back there like, ‘How this going to work out?’ But being in some open space is always fun as a receiver.”

As heavily involved as Gurley has been in the passing game all year — particularly in the Rams’ 10th and 11th wins in December — it’s probably fair to expect a heavy dose of the running back for Saturday’s playoff matchup against the Falcons. And while Gurley said he’s trying not to make anything bigger than what it is, he understands what’s at stake in his first NFL Postseason contest.

“Obviously it’s the playoffs, so it’s going to be a different atmosphere,” Gurley said. “But, at the end of the day, it’s just another game, another game that you want to win and it’s just one of those games. If you don’t win your season is over, so just that type of attitude — win or go home. For the most part, it’s definitely just another game, but it’s a big one for sure.”