After a season-long absence from highlight reels in 2016, Todd Gurley is on a constant loop on television and social media this week.
His spectacular touchdown reception against the Washington Redskins, which included him hurdling a beleaguered defensive back on his way to the end zone, is omnipresent as the Rams prepare for Thursday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium (5:15, Ch. 4 and NFL Network).
Gurley also hurdled a defender on a rushing play against the Redskins.
“I don’t know why I do it — it just happens,” Gurley, who competed in the hurdles during high school, said Tuesday. “Guess I still got a little bit of form left in me.”
As a running back, Gurley has not recaptured the form of his breakout rookie season, when he rushed for at least 128 yards in a game five times. But he appears to be making progress.
Against Washington, he rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown in 16 carries, and caught three passes for 48 yards and the touchdown.
Gurley has a team-best eight receptions for 104 yards this season.
“If I can just play one-on-one with a guy instead of 11 guys trying to tackle me, then why wouldn’t I do that?” he said of his expanding role as a receiver.
Gurley, who has not rushed for 100 yards in a game since 2015, is looking ahead to Thursday night. But he is aware of the attention his hurdling has created, a welcome change to the criticism he absorbed for nonproductive plays last season.
“You know they show that play a thousand times so when you finally do a good play like I did the other day, it makes you feel a lot better.
“I don’t know how I did it, just did it, man. But hopefully, I can just keep doing that. ... They’re probably going to be expecting that now, so, guess I got to come out with a new move.”
Wade Phillips walked to the podium and did not wait for the first question.
“What’s wrong with the run defense, right?” the Rams defensive coordinator said, correctly anticipating an onslaught of inquiries about why the Rams gave up 229 yards rushing against the Redskins.
“We’re upset about that,” he said, “but we’re going to do something about it.”
Time is of the essence: 49ers running back Carlos Hyde rushed for 124 yards in 15 carries against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Washington repeatedly gashed the Rams’ 3-4 scheme for big gains, including a 61-yard touchdown run by Chris Thompson. Phillips took the blame. He said the Redskins exploited plays that worked against Phillips-coached teams throughout his four-decade NFL career.
“They tried to copy all the plays that had any success against Denver or the Texans or Philadelphia or New Orleans or Houston or — where else have I been?” he said. “And, they were successful on those.”
Rams players are still adjusting to the 3-4, Phillips said. He noted that some of Robert Quinn’s responsibilities have changed in his move from end to outside linebacker. Inside linebackers Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron also are making adjustments.
Lineman Aaron Donald played Sunday with only three days of practice since he ended his holdout. Phillips said the three-time Pro Bowl selection “showed flashes,” but was rusty. On one play against the Redskins, Donald burst into the backfield and nearly intercepted a ball that quarterback Kirk Cousins pitched to Thompson.
“Nobody does that,” Phillips said. “Nobody even comes close to doing that, so you see those flashes of the greatness, but it still takes time and work to play football.
“It’s not an individual game, but I think he’ll be all right.”
The Rams activated cornerback Troy Hill, who was suspended the first two games for violating the NFL’s policy and program for substance abuse. To make room, the Rams waived cornerback Kevin Peterson and terminated linebacker Cassanova McKinzy from the practice squad. ... Tight end Gerald Everett (thigh), cornerback Kayvon Webster (shoulder) and running back Malcolm Brown (hamstring) were limited Tuesday, according the injury report.
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