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Todd Gurley's left knee still a topic, but Rams back says he's 'feeling pretty good'

Todd Gurley's left knee still a topic, but Rams back says he's 'feeling pretty good'
Rams running back Todd Gurley tries to get past Patriots defensive lineman Lawrence Guy in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

He spent the last few months traveling throughout the United States and abroad, working out and hanging out with family and friends.

Fielding questions about his left knee was not on Todd Gurley’s to-do list.

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But the Rams’ star running back anticipated an onslaught when he arrived Monday at the team’s Thousand Oaks training facility for the start of voluntary workouts.

Asked whether he was suffering from arthritis or another degenerative condition, Gurley was ready with an answer. And he did not stray far from the theme throughout his 10-minute session with reporters.

“All I can focus on is just how I’m doing right now,” Gurley said. “I’m feeling pretty good.”

Gurley’s knee has been the subject of intrigue since late in the 2018 season, which ended with disappointing performances by Gurley in the NFC championship game and the Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots.

Gurley, 24, underwent major reconstructive surgery on the knee in 2014 while in college at Georgia. He showed no outward signs of reinjuring it until December, when he required medical attention during a late-season loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

In the months since the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead have declined to specify the exact nature of Gurley’s injury, other than to say a plan was in place to help manage his workload as he enters his fifth NFL season.

Gurley, who signed a massive contract extension before last season, stayed on message Monday.

“All I can worry about is how I’m feeling right now,” he said. “I don’t know how I’m going to be feeling six months from now. … Just trying to make sure I feel the best when the season comes.”

Asked whether there had been any discussion about undergoing a procedure to address the issue, Gurley said, “Not really,” and that rest was the chosen option after consulting with team personnel.

“That was my first time ever playing in February,” he said. “Whether it would have been my knee or my ankle or my shoulder, it just would have been time to give anything a rest.”

McVay said Gurley’s workload would be monitored throughout voluntary workouts, organized team activities and training camp. Gurley and other Rams starters did not play in preseason games last season, and McVay is expected to continue that strategy in 2019.

The coach said Gurley would continue “being the focal point of our offense” as the Rams attempt to return to the Super Bowl.

“Unless I’m told otherwise, he’s a pretty versatile back and we’re going to continue to utilize all of his skill sets,” McVay said.

Dealing with injuries comes with playing in the NFL, Gurley said.

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“It’s not going to be the first time I’ve been hurt. It’s not going to be the last time, knock on wood,” he said. “That’s just part of football.”

Gurley rushed for 1,251 yards and scored 21 touchdowns last season for the Rams, who advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2001 season. After playing in a game that neither he nor most of his teammates had reached before, he described it as one of the best years of his career.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a win or a loss,” he said. “It was a blessing to be playing in the Super Bowl.”

Donald works it out

McVay and defensive tackle Aaron Donald said they would meet Monday to discuss Donald’s workout schedule.

Donald did not participate in offseason team workouts or training camp the last two seasons because of a contract impasse that ended when he signed a $135-million extension before the 2018 season opener. He had worked out with his personal trainer in Pittsburgh and was voted NFL defensive player of the year both seasons.

“Got to be around my guys and grind with them,” he said of Rams teammates, “but still want to be back in Pittsburgh getting some work.”

That works for McVay.

“You don’t worry about Aaron working on his own and getting things done that are all geared towards getting us ready,” McVay said.

Etc.

The Rams signed defensive back Blake Countess, a restricted free agent, to a one-year contract for slightly more than $2 million Monday. Kick returner JoJo Natson, wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge, defensive lineman Morgan Fox, and defensive backs Dominique Hatfield and Kevin Peterson also signed one-year contracts Monday. … Middle linebacker Cory Littleton and cornerback Troy Hill remain restricted free agents, so they were not present Monday. … McVay said linebacker Dante Fowler and cornerback Marcus Peters were not in attendance but had communicated with the Rams to let them know why. “Those are guys that they’ll be here once they get some of those things taken care of that they had to do,” the coach said. ... McVay declined to name players who had undergone offseason procedures.

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