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Practice Report 10/6: Gurley's Maturity, Dunbar's Back

Posted Oct 6, 2015

RB Todd Gurley is ready for more after his Sunday performance. Plus, the latest on Alec Ogletree, including St. Louis signing Jo-Lonn Dunbar for added depth.

Running back Todd Gurley made a splash with his 146-yard performance on Sunday afternoon. And he said Tuesday his knee felt just fine the next day.

“Nothing the cold tub and recovery boost can’t help,” Gurley said.

Of course, 144 of those yards came in the second half. And on Tuesday, Gurley again gave all credit to his offensive line for the outburst.

“Those guys up front just imposed their will on the defensive line and those guys did great,” Gurley said.

The running back admitted on some occasions during his rehab process, he felt unsure he’d be able to take a string of carries again like he did on Sunday.

“I knew that was the biggest thing coming back and starting practice is being able to if things get rolling and you start doing good, you have to expect the ball,” Gurley said. “That’s why we practice the way we do -- finish our runs, run back to the huddle and keep running again.”

The sequence of four runs in the middle of the third quarter to set up a touchdown somewhat signaled just how well Gurley has gotten back into game shape.

“I think what everyone expected, was after he broke the first long one -- where we had the celebration and the delay -- that you expected to see Tre [Mason] go in. And [Gurley] said he was fine,” head coach Jeff Fisher said. “He goes, ‘No I’m going. I’m going to finish this drive.’ That’s a really good indication of where he is right now.”

“I just felt good,” Gurley said. “In practice I’ll be tired as ever. But in a game, I don’t know why, sometimes I am not as tired as I am in practice. I don’t know what it was, but hopefully it keeps going.”

One of the more significant moments in Sunday’s game came when Gurley decided to go down on a 30-yard run late in the fourth quarter, allowing the offense to run out the clock. It was a sign of maturity not usually seen from a rookie running back in just his second game.

But much like quarterback Nick Foles said after the contest, head coach Jeff Fisher remarked on Tuesday that it was the kind of action the Rams have come to expect from Gurley.

“He’s done all of the extra things. He’s that complete back,” Fisher said. “That’s the reason we drafted him, because we knew he was like that. All of the information we got out of the University of Georgia was all true. This is the kind of young man that he is. He’s a real pro.”

It also speaks to the way Gurley takes coaching. He said Tuesday that he didn’t think he had ever been in that scenario before. Clearly, he was ready for it. 

“We go over it,” Gurley said. “The coaches do a good job of going over those situations. As a player, that’s your job to understand and listen to what the coaches say, and execute.”

Now the next step for the Georgia product may be taking off the knee brace. Gurley has been using it since he arrived in St. Louis, in part for his own safety. But the running back said he can feel a difference with it on and off.

“If you look over at me on the sidelines messing with it every five seconds,” he said, but added there are, “no excuses with or without the brace -- I still have to go out there and do my job.”

No matter if he wears it or not, if Gurley is able to put a few games together like Sunday, he will be right on his way to a strong rookie season.

JO-LONN DUNBAR RETURNS

With Alec Ogletree’s long-term injury, the Rams signed Jo-Lonn Dunbar to provide depth at linebacker. The club released Dunbar in the last round of cuts at the beginning of September, but he should be fine to slide in and play due to his familiarity with the system.

“I’ve known this defense for the last six years of my life,” Dunbar said on Tuesday. “There are some new calls, some new language, and some new things they’ve put in. But outside of that, it’s almost like me learning from the beginning. I know the defense, I know the calls, I know the structure, I know the guys, so I feel comfortable.

“He knows the defense -- that’s why we brought him back,” Fisher said. “He stayed in shape, came back, and it’s like he’s never left. He has a good feel for what we’re doing.”

The linebacker said while the reason he’s been brought back is unfortunate, he’s happy to be back in a familiar locker room.

“It’s almost like I never left,” Dunbar said. “They’re all friends of mine, they’re all accepting. It’s easy to come back in this locker room and fit in.”

While Dunbar said he’s not necessarily sure the exact role he’ll be playing on the defense, he’s played all the positions within it.

“Whatever that role may be, I’ll accept it and I’ll play,” Dunbar said. “Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do to the best of my ability.”

OGLETREE UPDATE

Fisher said Ogletree underwent successful surgery on Tuesday morning to repair his fracture. While the team will not put him on injured reserve at this point, Fisher said the linebacker will still be out for longer than eight weeks.

“We have decided not to use the IR designation at this point,” Fisher said. “He’ll be out -- designated as a Sunday inactive and out. We’ll just kind of see how things go, and there’s a chance for a return. We’re just going to see how things go.”

As for the 53-man roster, the Rams still had an open spot with the Chris Givens trade for Dunbar to take. Running back Trey Watts is off his four-game suspension and is practicing, but has a one-week roster exemption. Fisher said St. Louis will use that and then re-evaluate the roster next week.