Rookie running back Todd Gurley smiled a bit Friday when asked about being part of the St. Louis Rams active roster.
While the first round pick out of Georgia was limited to individual drills and walk-throughs while still rehabbing ACL surgery on his left knee, it was far better than starting the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.W
“It’s been fine, I really haven’t had any problems with it working out this summer,” said Gurley, who spoke with reporters after signing autographs for fans on the first day of training camp at Rams Park. “One thing about me, I’m not being timid on it. I’m at the stage now where I’m not really thinking about it too much.”
Rams General Manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher both have said Gurley, who was injured last November against Auburn, is ahead of schedule on his recovery. Neither will project his potential return to active duty but both seemed impressive by his progress thus far, with Fisher calling his performance during conditioning testing on Tuesday “great.”
“There was no concern whatsoever with respect to his rehab just because of the (due diligence) work that we did prior to the draft and everything that’s he’s done this far,” Fisher said. “In fairness to him, the PUP thing, it just didn’t make sense because he’s going to stand there and watch.
“We want to build him, we want to add individual reps, we want him to be able to practice. He can practice against the defense and if you PUP him and go into the season with him on PUP, you lose him for six weeks.”
That doesn’t mean Rams fans should expect Gurley, who ran for 3,285 yards and 36 touchdowns at Georgia, in the backfield for the season opener.
The team will not rush him back for any reason, especially with Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham returning in the backfield.
“I can’t say if it’s Week 1 or Week 6,” Fisher said. “We’re hoping that’s it’s somewhere in there, but we’re not going to take any chances or any risks or subject him to any danger. We feel like he’s ahead of schedule.
“He’s a tremendous athlete and this is going to give him a chance to know the offense inside and out and feel good about what he’s doing on a daily basis, rather than just becoming that outcast that they typically feel like when they’re on PUP.”
Gurley and the rest of the Rams rookies got high marks from the coaching staff for their work Tuesday during conditioning tests, especially given the high heat and humidity.
“It was brutal,” Gurley said. “I was laid out right after, but that was definitely one of the hottest days. I made it. I did what I had to do.”
Fisher said one gauge for Gurley’s progress is Rams running back Isaiah Pead, who also is returning from ACL surgery approximately 10 months ago.
“Isaiah’s two months ahead of Todd and you can tell the difference,” Fisher said. “Todd understands that the next two months are really important.”
While the rehab work has been tedious and tests his patience, Gurley is doing his best to put it behind him.
“It is (frustrating) because you’re doing everything everybody else is, plus a little bit more,” he said. “Even though I’m not out here doing all the practice stuff, I’m probably doing more lifting than they are.
“It’s frustrating because you just feel like you can go ... you feel like you can do much more than the trainers or coaches are giving you. But they’re just trying to protect you and they’ve been through this experience, no need to rush it.”