Chargers sure to continue strategy of keying on Todd Gurley, but Rams’ back still gives defenses run for their money

Rams running back Todd Gurley (30) celebrates with wide receiver Robert Woods (17) in a game against the Arizona Cardinals at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Sept. 16.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

After leading the league in touchdowns and winning the NFL’s offensive player of the year award in 2017, Todd Gurley knew he would be a marked man this season.

The Rams running back was the focus of the Arizona Cardinals’ attention last week.

“A great game plan,” Gurley said Thursday, “but still couldn’t stop me from getting into the end zone.”

Gurley rushed for three touchdowns and two of the Rams’ three two-point conversions, while Rams receivers flourished in the 34-0 victory.


Asked Thursday if he expected opponents to key on him every game, Gurley said he hoped so.

“If not,” he said, “then the coach is probably not good.”

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley no doubt will make controlling Gurley a priority Sunday at the Coliseum, but it still might not stop the back from crossing the goal line. Gurley began the week with a league-leading 28 points.

In the season opener against the Oakland Raiders, he turned a shovel pass into a touchdown. Against the Cardinals, he scored on runs of 11, one and two yards. His four touchdowns tie him for the league lead with A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals. Gurley’s two-point conversion runs, however, gave him the four additional points to put him atop the scoring list.

Gurley got those opportunities after touchdowns because kicker Greg Zuerlein — the league’s leading scorer last season — suffered a groin injury during warmups. Coach Sean McVay indicated this week that the Rams’ success with two-point conversions against the Cardinals might influence him to try more as the season progresses.

The Rams signed Sam Ficken to replace Zuerlein, who is expected to be sidelined several weeks.

Last season, Gurley rushed for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns while catching 64 passes for 788 yards and six touchdowns. This season, he has rushed for 150 yards in 39 carries, and he has six catches for 70 yards.

The two-point conversions, which are marked at the two-yard line, do not count toward rushing or receiving yardage. But Gurley will be ready if called upon again after touchdowns.

“I don’t really have a choice,” he said. “Got to go in there and go for two.”


Center John Sullivan (ankle) did not practice. Defensive lineman Michael Brockers (shoulder) was limited. Both are expected to play Sunday.

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein