His memories of Hawaii are nothing but fond.
Todd Gurley traveled there for the Pro Bowl after his rookie season in 2015. He earned a bonus for playing on the winning team. He also apparently ate great food.
“Had some of the best chicken ever of my life down in Hawaii, on the side of a street somewhere,” Gurley said Tuesday. “It was pretty good.”
Gurley said he would welcome an opportunity to return to Hawaii, but he probably won’t make the trip there with teammates when they head to Honolulu for the preseason game Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys at Aloha Stadium.
“That’s Coach’s decision,” Gurley said. “I would love to just go to Hawaii, sit back, sip on some pineapple juice, chill at whatever hotel we’re staying.
“Who would complain about going to Hawaii?”
Coach Sean McVay is not playing starters in preseason games. McVay said Gurley “more likely than not” would remain home this weekend.
That comes as no surprise.
The Rams held Gurley out of offseason workouts, and they have managed his workload during training camp and preseason practices to prevent a recurrence of the left knee issue that slowed and sidelined him late last season.
McVay has constantly reiterated that there is a plan in place for handling Gurley, who before last season signed an extension with $45 million in guarantees.
“He’s continuing to really show a lot of the things that make him such an elite player, and I think he’s feeling really good,” McVay said this week. “I think it’s been a smart plan.”
Putting Gurley on a near-six-hour flight to stand on the sideline at Aloha Stadium is almost certainly not part of that plan.
“What we want to do is always look out for our players and what’s in their best interest,” McVay said, “and that’s something that we’ll have more clarification on as we get closer to that trip.”
The Rams’ trip to Hawaii is anything but a vacation.
They leave Thursday afternoon, will have a light practice Friday to give Hawaii media an opportunity to promote the game, and then will return Saturday night after the game.
“That’s definitely part of the discussion,” McVay said when asked whether travel was a consideration in keeping Gurley and possibly other players off the trip. “But figuring out the nuances and all the little details is something that we’re kind of working through as an organization right now.”
Since training camp opened last month, Gurley has been limited to practicing every other day.
He participated with other starters in joint practices with the Chargers and Oakland Raiders and has shown no sign of discomfort. Gurley said throughout training camp and after the joint practices that he felt fine. After participating in Tuesday’s workout, he sprinted to the far end of a field and caught passes fired from a machine.
Gurley is not the only running back whom McVay is keeping out of potential harm’s way.
Backup Malcolm Brown did not play in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Raiders, and he is not expected to play against the Cowboys or in preseason games against the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans. He is part of the core group of players whom McVay wants to ensure are physically sound when the Rams open the season Sept. 8 at the Carolina Panthers.
Second-year pro John Kelly started at running back against the Raiders, and rookie Darrell Henderson played and experienced NFL game speed for the first time. Henderson’s role is expected to expand as the preseason progresses. The goal is to have him prepared for the season opener against the Panthers. That’s when Gurley’s game-readiness will finally be on display.
Cornerback Aqib Talib did not practice because of a “soft-tissue issue,” McVay said. ... The Rams were part of the “Hard Knocks” episode Tuesday that was filmed last week in Napa, where they practiced with the Raiders. Part of the show features a clip of a young McVay on Jon Gruden’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff in 2008. “I can’t believe I had those sideburns,” said McVay, 33. “I thought, ‘Man, I think I’ve gotten handsome in my old age.’ ... That was definitely some embarrassing footage that they pulled out.”