IRVINE — Todd Gurley played in the 2016 preseason. Really, he did. Gurley got on the field for one series of one quarter of one game, for a total of five plays. He had four carries and one touchdown.
Then-coach Jeff Fisher had a “don’t touch Todd” mentality that started on the Rams’ practice field and carried over to preseason game. The idea, reasonable in theory, was that a player as valuable as Gurley shouldn’t be exposed to risky big hits during games that don’t matter. Save him for the season.
Except it didn’t work. When the regular season came out, Gurley looked out of sync and never topped 85 yards in a game. New coach Sean McVay has a different plan. He’s not afraid to give Gurley some work, and that started Saturday in the Rams’ preseason-opening victory over Dallas.
Gurley played two series against the Cowboys — same as Jared Goff — and matched his entire 2016 preseason totaled with four carries. Gurley gained just 2 yards behind some shoddy run blocking. Expect Gurley’s workload to increase when the Rams play at Oakland next Saturday.
“Yeah. That’s the plan,” McVay told reporters at UC Irvine on Sunday, an off day for players. “Especially being in a new system, and just for the overall continuity of our offense, I think it’s important for him to be out there with those guys, and that’s the goal and that’s the plan right now.”
After the Dallas game, McVay said Goff likely would play into the second quarter against Oakland, and perhaps early into the second half the following week against the Chargers. Will it be the same for Gurley? That might be a stretch, but these are odd times for the Rams’ running backs.
Lance Dunbar, expected to be Gurley’s primary backup, hasn’t participated in training camp because of a knee injury that apparently dates to last season, when Dunbar played for Dallas.
Dunbar is on the Rams’ “physically unable to perform” list, and McVay said “it doesn’t look like there’s…