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Practice Report 11/18: Can Goff Starting Affect Gurley?

Posted Nov 18, 2016

It's been tough sledding for RB Todd Gurley in his sophomore campaign, but could a change at QB help the RB in an indirect way?

It’s no secret that opposing teams have been making it particularly difficult on the Rams to get anything going in their run game. Week after week, it seems like running back Todd Gurley faces defensive fronts with eight or nine players in the box.

So with quarterback Jared Goff starting on Sunday, could things loosen up a bit for the 2015 Offensive Rookie of the Year?

“That depends on our ability to put the ball down the field — if we’re having success,” head coach Jeff Fisher said. “That’s the big deal, offensively, is to put it down the field so we can have balance.”

Gurley said he can remember how he felt prior to his first start last year against Arizona. The running back, of course, had a massive second half en route to a Rams victory.

“It was cool, just being able to play, to live out your dream,” Gurley said. “It’s definitely an exciting moment to just come in and be able to start.”

But regardless of who is behind center, Gurley and Los Angeles’ offense will have a challenge on Sunday, as Miami has been strong against the run — particularly as of late. Last week, they allowed 70 yards on 24 carries to San Diego’s Melvin Gordon. But 37 of those yards — 53 percent — came on two runs where Gordon shook loose. Add in another 13-yard run, and it means the Dolphins held the Chargers to under a yard per carry on 21 attempts. Miami’s defense racked up eight tackles for loss in the 31-24 victory.

“Great front seven — physical front,” Gurley said of Miami’s defense. “Obviously, the D-line is tremendous. Kiko [Alonso] at linebacker, he just makes plays. And their DBs, they can tackle pretty well.”

Nevertheless, the Rams got their own run game going a bit last week against the Jets. While Gurley had only 10 yards on 10 carries in the first half, things started clicking in the second, as he racked up 54 yards on 11 attempts.

“I believe he had 21 carries and the first half wasn’t pretty,” offensive coordinator Rob Boras said this week. “I don’t know what his yards per carry was in the first half, but our defense again is playing lights out and it allowed us to hand the ball off in the second half.

“His yards per carry went up, we saw some 8, 9, 10, 12-yard gains there and that’s what we expect in the run game,” Boras continued. “It took us a half to get there, we’re hoping to build off that momentum and carry it over to the first half this week against a really good defense with Miami.”

If the Rams are able to do so on Sunday, it will be in large part because of the players up front. Boras said the offensive line played well in the second half, opening up some running lanes for both Gurley and Benny Cunningham.

“There were some really good examples in the run game with our double teams and our fits and getting to the second level, it was really well done,” Boras said. “It was well-blocked and Todd and Benny took advantage of it.”

QUINN FULLY PARTICIPATES IN FRIDAY’S PRACTICE

Defensive end Robert Quinn participated in his first practice of the week on Friday, after a non-football illness left him hospitalized on Monday. Quinn said after the session the illness was brought on by dehydration.

“Drink more water — simple as that,” Quinn said of what the doctors told him.

While Quinn maybe would have liked to get back to practicing sooner, he gave credit to those who are making sure he’s 100 percent before getting back on the field.

“The trainers here and doctors here, they take extra precaution to make sure the players health and safety is … as best as it can,” Quinn said. “But we just took it one day at a time. Luckily, I was able to go out there today, run around a little bit, get moving around. Feeling better, just taking it one day at a time, and hopefully just feel like my old self.”

It’s still unclear whether or not Quinn will play on Sunday. He’s listed as questionable after a full session on Friday.

“We’re talking about it. I don’t know exactly how it’s going to play out. I was able to get out there today. I think it’s going to come down to the doctors and, of course, Fisher, and then ultimately how I feel. And hopefully I can get out there on Sunday and be somewhat productive. But if not, well, the guys have to rally up and keep it going.”

INJURY REPORT

The Rams have six players listed on this week’s injury report, none of whom have been ruled out for Sunday.

Center Tim Barnes (foot) did not participate in Friday’s session, but he’s listed as questionable. Barnes did not practice Wednesday and would not have practiced on Thursday, according to the estimate.

Defensive back Lamarcus Joyner (ankle), defensive end Robert Quinn (illness), defensive end Eugene Sims (concussion) all were full participants in Friday’s practice and are listed as questionable.

Gurley (thigh) was limited in Friday’s practice and is questionable. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson (illness) did not participate in Friday’s session, but is expected to play on Sunday.

“Trumaine was ill today, but he’ll be fine,” Fisher said.

ROSTER MOVES

The Rams made a few roster moves on Friday, bolstering depth.

Wide receiver Nelson Spruce, who has been sidelined by a calf injury, was placed on injured reserve. Defensive back Blake Countess has been promoted from the practice squad to the active roster and defensive end Lenny Jones was signed to the practice squad.