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Rams’ Todd Gurley looks more like his old self with increased workload against the Raiders

The Times’ Gary Klein and Lindsey Thiry break down the Rams’ 24-21 victory over the Raiders in a preseason game, including a discussion about quarterback Jared Goff and an improved offense.

No more kid gloves for Todd Gurley.

The Rams running back, whom former coach Jeff Fisher limited to four carries last preseason, started to break loose against the Oakland Raiders in a preseason game Saturday at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Gurley played in one quarter and rushed for 38 yards and a touchdown in eight carries. He also caught a 12-yard pass.

“It felt good,” Gurley said after the game. “We got the run game going a little bit, play-action and we were able to connect off of there.”

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First-year coach Sean McVay has emphasized the need to make Gurley, the 2015 offensive rookie of the year, a focal point in his new offense.

But McVay also has stressed the importance of balancing Gurley’s workload.

“I’m just doing whatever the coaches tell me,” Gurley said. “If they want me to play, they want me to play.”

Last season, Gurley was held to 885 rushing yards and failed to rush for 100 yards in a single game.

Franchise player?

Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson intercepts a pass from Raiders quarterback Derek Carr during a preseason game on Aug. 19.
(Ben Margot / Associated Press)

Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson continued to play inspired as several other defensive backs were sidelined.

Johnson intercepted a pass by Raiders quarterback Derek Carr in the first quarter and returned it nine yards. The Rams scored a touchdown eight plays later.

Johnson said after the game that he was surprised Carr threw his direction after the receiver stopped running.

“I finished it for him,” Johnson said about the intended receiver’s route.

Last week at practice, Johnson intercepted passes by Jared Goff twice.

“A great practice usually carries onto the game,” Johnson said. “Just went out there and tried to perfect my craft and my technique.”

Johnson, 27, is playing a second consecutive season under the franchise tag after the Rams did not sign him to a long-term contract. He will earn nearly $17 million this season before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

A third-round pick in 2012, Johnson has 16 interceptions in five seasons with the Rams, including a career-best seven in 2015.

Safety LaMarcus Joyner suffered an apparent injury in the first defensive series against the Raiders and did not return to the game. Joyner hit tight end Lee Smith as Smith caught a 19-yard pass for a touchdown. Joyner drew a flag on the play for unnecessary roughness, then walked to the sideline with a trainer.

Joyner, a fourth-year pro, also was flagged earlier in the four-play series for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Cornerbacks Kayvon Webster and Nickell Robey-Coleman did not participate in practices last week and were sidelined against the Raiders.

‘Slow death’ in Oakland

Raiders fans are enjoying the team in Oakland while they still can.

The team is scheduled to move to Las Vegas for the 2020 season, but will remain in the Coliseum until the end of next season. It has yet to be determined where the Raiders will play in 2019 after the team’s lease with the Coliseum expires.

“It’s like a slow death,” said Salene Castaneda, a 12-year season ticket holder from Oakland. “It’s like watching your best friend move to another state.”

Castaneda, like several fans who tailgated hours before kickoff, said she would not renew her season tickets when the team moved because of travel costs.

Mario Pimentel, a six-year season ticket holder from Martinez, 40 minutes north of Oakland, said he would not renew his tickets because of disdain for owner Mark Davis.

“I feel miserable,” Pimentel said. “We come here, we live it up, we barbecue, we tailgate and I come here to let go of some stress, to party and that’s all taken away.”

Pimentel said he would plan to attend the opener in Vegas, and perhaps two or three games a season.

“I love them,” Pimentel said, adding, “I can’t miss out.”

Etc.

Linebacker Carlos Thompson suffered an apparent injury and was carted off the field in the fourth quarter…Receiver Michael Thomas was injured in the fourth quarter and was assisted off the field by trainers … Rams receiver Tavon Austin, linebackers Robert Quinn, Mark Barron, Samson Ebukam, Ejuan Price and Nicholas Grigsby, and offensive tackle Andrew Donal were listed among inactive players.

lindsey.thiry@latimes.com

Follow Lindsey Thiry on Facebook and Twitter @LindseyThiry


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