Atlanta is in need of a better run game this season after their starting running back in 2019, Devonta Freeman, failed to rush for 100 yards. But, so did Gurley.
However, heading into Week 1 Gurley says he is feeling good and his knees are close to being 100 percent healthy.
“I didn’t have 100 yards last year either,” he said via Washington Post. “I don’t know why they got me, huh? But I feel good, man. Week 1, playing against Seattle, a team I’m super-familiar with. Been able to play against those guys nine times. I feel good.”
Gurley’s Workload Was Managed in LA
The Los Angelos Rams released Gurley and it didn’t take long for Atlanta to swoop in and take a chance on him.
LA managed Gurley’s workload in 2019 when his arthritis in his left knee began to flare up.
He averaged 16.9 touches per game last season, which was off his career average of 20.3.
Even on touch count last season, Gurley averaged 3.8 yards per carry last season with career lows in carries with 223 and yards with 857. Gurley’s bad knee didn’t stop him from scoring 14 touchdowns in which 12 were rushing TDs.
Over the past five seasons in the NFL, Gurley has rushed for 58 total touchdowns and 12 receiving. Gurley is most effective in the red zone, where it matters most.
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Gurley Can Be a Productive Player in 2020
A pro football doctor for 17 years, Dr. David Chao says that Gurley can still be a productive player if his workload is properly managed. Aside from putting Gurley on touch count in Atlanta, the Falcons are also giving him “veterans days off” or dismissal from in-season practices.
“The arthritis in his knee will not go away but can be managed,” Chao wrote for The San Diego Union-Tribune after Gurley was released by the Rams. “Gurley still has plenty of football left in him, but his carriers/touches will need to be limited as well as his practice time. Going forward, Gurley can still add value as a part-time running back, but teams need to adjust expectations given the health of his left knee.”
Gurley spent a handful of sitting out of training camp to rest.
Matt Ryan Believes Gurley Is a Game Changer on Offense
Matt Ryan gave Gurley plenty of praise this offseason and the first week of training camp. The two had a chance to work out when Ryan flew out to LA back in May.
Ryan told ESPN that Gurley is one of the most dynamic players on the field and called him a game-changer. He also raved over Gurley’s explosiveness and his excitement on what he brings to the Falcons’ offense.
The Falcons have a lot of faith in Gurley, the 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and high hopes he will create a spark in a running game that ranked 30th in the league last season (85.1 rushing yards per game).
If Gurley can come in and show his early days even just slightly, the Falcons are in more than good hands.
“Feeling good. Hey, man, last year is last year. It’s a new team. I’m just happy to be a part of the brotherhood and see what I can bring to the team,” Gurley said.