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Rams feel Malcolm Brown is best fit to use in tandem with Todd Gurley

Rams feel Malcolm Brown is best fit to use in tandem with Todd Gurley
Rams running back Malcolm Brown was a special teams standout before he suffered a season-ending injury last season. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The question, Sean McVay knows, will be asked when offseason workouts begin next month. It will happen during training camp and preseason. It will not cease to be asked until star running back Todd Gurley plays in the 2019 opener.

How’s Gurley’s knee?

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“It’s good,” McVay said again this week at the NFL owner’s meetings, adding, “we’re not talking about that anymore.”

McVay was joking. He knows that, like it or not, the question will keep coming.

Gurley last July signed an extension that guarantees him $45 million, and he looked to be worth every penny through the first two thirds of the 2018 season. But his left knee, which underwent major surgery in 2014, required medical attention in the 14th game. He sat out the final two regular season games, looked like his old self in a playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, and then flamed out in the NFC title game and struggled in the Super Bowl.

McVay and general manager Les Snead have declined to label Gurley’s problem other than to say a program will be in place to manage his physical health going forward.

Gurley, 24, did not play during the preseason in 2018. Neither did any other starters. McVay almost certainly will follow the same plan in 2019.

So the question about Gurley’s knee will keep coming.

“You’re not naïve to know that,” McVay said, “Hopefully we won’t allow that to be a distraction for us.”

The Rams begin their offseason program on April 15.

Gurley will be there, and so will backup Malcolm Brown, who signed a two-year contract that guarantees him $2.1 million.

Brown, 25, rushed for 225 yards and was a special teams standout before he suffered a season-ending clavicle injury last season. The Rams signed C.J. Anderson as a replacement, and he performed well in place of Gurley and as his backup.

Faced with a choice about whom to bring back — Brown or Anderson — the Rams chose a player who joined them as an undrafted free agent in 2015. To do so, they matched an offer sheet that Brown signed with the Detroit Lions.

“He had played really well when he had to step in, or just being able to spell Todd first, second or third down,” McVay said of Brown. “He can really do everything.”

Brown also has a close relationship with Gurley.

“They both have fun personalities and they just sort of click well together,” McVay said. “They get genuinely excited for one another, and when everyone else is doing well I think that’s a credit to Todd’s humility and being able to lead the right way.”

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Chargers shed light on Lamp

The Chargers always have liked Forrest Lamp’s potential, going back to the 2017 draft when they took him in the second round with the 38th pick.

Preparing for the upcoming season, they aim to develop the offensive lineman’s versatility.

Coach Anthony Lynn said the plan is to allow Lamp to compete for a starting job at guard and then, depending on how that competition goes, eventually groom him to also play tackle.

“We just want to have that position flexibility built into our offensive line,” Lynn explained. “There were times [last season] we could not bring him up to be active on game day because he could only play one position.”

A tackle at Western Kentucky, Lamp sat out the 2017 season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament that required two surgical procedures. He spent last year as a reserve guard.

Lynn said the Chargers are set at tackle with Russell Okung and Sam Tevi. Their starting guards last season were Michael Schofield and Dan Feeney. Lynn and his staff were reluctant to make a switch as the group developed chemistry and the wins continued to come.

That left Lamp on the sidelines and, because of his lack of versatility, often in street clothes on Sundays. He appeared in two games and was inactive for 12, including the playoffs.

“We created no position flexibility for him because of his injury,” Lynn said. “But he’s going to have an opportunity to come back and compete for a starting job, and we’re going to use him in different places.”

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