Rams’ Gurley wants to play against 49ers but only if he feels right

Rams running back Todd Gurley massages his knee on the sideline against the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Phoenix on Dec. 23, 2018.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

After the Rams’ season opener against the Oakland Raiders, Todd Gurley’s left knee felt sore.

The running back, who signed a $60-million extension at the start of training camp, had rushed for more than 100 yards to help lead the Rams to victory.

But he didn’t exactly feel like a million bucks, let alone 60 million of them.

“I was contemplating on giving the Rams back their money and everything,” he joked Thursday.

A few days later, though, Gurley felt fine. And he went on to become the NFL’s leading rusher and scoring leader for much of the season.


Now, for the second consecutive week, Gurley is dealing with a left knee issue that has prevented him from practicing, and it could keep him out of the lineup again for Sunday’s season finale against the San Francisco 49ers at the Coliseum.

If the Rams win, they will clinch the No. 2 seed for the NFC playoffs, which comes with a bye through the wild-card round.

Whether Gurley plays remains to be determined.

“If it’s a similar outlook, or if he’s not feeling totally ready to go, then we’ll take the same approach that we did last week,” coach Sean McVay said.

Last Sunday, Gurley sat out the Rams’ victory over the Arizona Cardinals, and veteran C.J. Anderson stepped in and rushed for 167 yards and touchdown.

Coach Sean McVay said Gurley is regarded as day to day for the game against the 49ers. If Gurley feels comfortable by Sunday, he could play, according to McVay.

“You’d prefer for him to practice, but it wouldn’t be something that if he doesn’t practice, then there’s definitely no chance he plays,” McVay said.

Gurley, who has amassed 1,831 yards from scrimmage and scored a league-leading 21 touchdowns, said he was taking it one day at a time.

“Some days you wake up feeling pain. Some days you wake up feeling much better,” he said. “So, it’s just one of those day-by-day things.

“I’m just going to have to see when Sunday gets here.”

While in college at Georgia in 2014, Gurley had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. But until last Sunday a knee injury had not sidelined him for a game in three-plus NFL seasons.

Gurley felt discomfort early in the Rams’ Dec. 16 defeat by the Philadelphia Eagles at the Coliseum. It did not spring from any specific play, he said, and he received treatment from trainers and the medical staff during the game.

“It was just — came back on the sidelines and just you can tell when something doesn’t feel right,” he said. “You know your body… Obviously, kind of went back in the game and played. Did what I could do and then just kind of dealt with the consequences the next day.”

Unlike after the season opener, however, he did not feel like himself by midweek.

Gurley went through a pregame workout in Arizona at State Farm Stadium before he was ruled out against the Cardinals.

“I could’ve played, but who knows how long I would’ve been able to play,” he said.

If he plays against the 49ers, Gurley said he would not be concerned about a lingering problem.

“I’m not going to go out there if I know I can’t play,” he said, adding, “I’m going to be smart with it. They’re going to be smart with it. But, yeah, I’m not going to ever put myself in a situation where I could possibly go out there and hurt myself again.

“If I felt good and went out there and got hurt, then hey, that’s just part of the game.”

If Gurley does not play Sunday, and the Rams win, Gurley would not play again until the divisional round of the playoffs, either Jan. 12 or 13. That would be a four-week break from game action.

Gurley said he would not be concerned about a long layoff.

“If I come back in and don’t do good it’s going to be, ‘I had two, three weeks off,’” he said. “If I go back in and do good, ‘Oh, the coaches did a great job of giving him rest.’

“So, it goes both ways.”

Asked if he had been told there would be a need for a surgical evaluation after the season, Gurley said he was focused to “keep it right for this season,” and be positive.

“Things could be a lot worse,” he said, “so just looking at things on a positive end.”


Safety Lamarcus Joyner (ankle) did not practice and running back Justin Davis (shoulder) was limited. Linebacker Matt Longacre practiced after sitting out Wednesday because of illness.

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein