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Could Rams' Todd Gurley break the NFL record for touchdowns in a season?

Could Rams' Todd Gurley break the NFL record for touchdowns in a season?
Rams running back Todd Gurley makes a cut against the Vikings. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The number does not escape Todd Gurley.

Asked Thursday if he knew the NFL record for touchdowns in a season, the Rams running back broke it down.

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“Twenty-eight rushing, three receiving,” Gurley said. “Thirty-one overall.”

Then-Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson set the record in 2006 en route to NFL most valuable player honors. The Hall of Famer is one of only two running backs to win the award in the last 12 years. Adrian Peterson won in 2012 while playing for the Minnesota Vikings.

Gurley is making a case to add his name to the list.

He has scored a league-leading 15 touchdowns — 11 rushing, four receiving — for the Rams, who will put their 8-0 record on the line Sunday against the New Orleans Saints (6-1) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Gurley, last season’s offensive player of the year, leads the NFL with 800 yards rushing and 96 points. He has converted three two-point conversions, the most recent Sunday in a 29-27 victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Are 31 touchdowns within reach?

“Anything is possible,” Gurley said, “Let’s just say that.”

LaDainian Tomlinson breaks a tackle from Broncos' Vernon Fox to score a touchdown in 2008.
LaDainian Tomlinson breaks a tackle from Broncos' Vernon Fox to score a touchdown in 2008. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Gurley, who signed a $60-million extension before the season, is averaging a league-best 100 yards a game. He has rushed for more than 100 yards four times, including a 208-yard performance against the Denver Broncos in Week 6.

He has scored three touchdowns in a game three times.

Against the Packers, Gurley scored a touchdown on a 30-yard catch-and-run play. He could have rushed for a certain touchdown late in the game but instead went to the ground so that the Rams could retain possession and run out the clock, thus keeping the ball from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“It’s not all one-yard touchdowns,” offensive lineman Rodger Saffold said. “There’s all types of stuff. … And then he gave up one for us so we could win the game.

“It’s pretty amazing.”

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Last season, Gurley scored 19 touchdowns and amassed 2,093 yards from scrimmage. The fourth-year pro is playing at a “higher level” this season, Saints coach Sean Payton said.

Sunday’s game pits the Rams, who average a league-best 151 yards rushing, against the NFL’s best rushing defense. The Saints have given up a league-low 74 yards a game rushing.

Gurley rushed for 74 yards in 17 carries and caught four passes for 54 yards in a 26-20 victory over the Saints last season at the Coliseum. The victory helped spur the Rams to an 11-5 record and their first playoff appearance since 2004.

Sunday’s game could have an impact on home-field advantage for the NFC playoffs.

“It’s always rocking,” Gurley said of the Superdome, “and it's going to be a fun one.”

Getting ready

Receiver Cooper Kupp, sidelined the last two games because of a knee injury, was limited Thursday but is expected to play Sunday.

“I can’t wait to be able to get there and play a game with the guys,” Kupp said, adding, “I’ve been trying to tell [coach Sean McVay] I’m ready to go.”

Kupp has 30 receptions for 438 yards and five touchdowns.

In Week 5, he suffered a concussion and did not play in the second half against the Seattle Seahawks. He suffered a knee sprain the next week against the Broncos.

Josh Reynolds started the last two games in Kupp’s place. The second-year pro scored two touchdowns against the Packers.

“He’s a starting-caliber receiver, certainly isn’t too big for him,” McVay said of Reynolds, adding, “He’s demonstrated that he’s deserving of being on the field, and he’s going to be able to continue to play and be an important part of it.”

Fitting in

New edge rusher Dante Fowler practiced for the first time and said it was “really easy” to acclimate with players such as Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers.

“Playing with a lot of elite players,” he said, “they make your job really easy.”

Coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense is familiar, Fowler said, noting that he watched DeMarcus Ware play for Dallas Cowboys and Von Miller for the Broncos under Phillips.

Fowler might not be limited to pass-rushing situations, Phillips said.

“Seems like a sharp guy, picked up everything so far,” Phillips said. “We may use him in our first- and second-down defense too.”

Etc.

Linebacker Trevon Young, sidelined Sunday because of a back injury, was a full participant in practice, according to the injury report.

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