It remains to be seen whether new Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey will play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, but all signs point to star running back Todd Gurley returning to the lineup.
A left thigh bruise forced Gurley to sit out last week’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers, a defeat that extended the Rams’ losing streak to three games. After being limited during practices early this week, he was listed as a full participant Friday.
“We’re optimistic that he’s going to be able to go,” coach Sean McVay said afterward.
Because of the left knee issue that sidelined and slowed Gurley near the end of the 2018 season, McVay has limited the touches of the three-time Pro Bowl selection. But Gurley remains perhaps the most important part of the offense.
He has rushed for 270 yards and has scored a team-best five touchdowns.
Backup Malcolm Brown started in Gurley’s place against the 49ers, and impressed during the opening drive when he carried the ball five times for 40 yards. But Brown later suffered an ankle injury. He did not practice this week and is doubtful to play Sunday.
Rookie Darrell Henderson is expected to serve as Gurley’s back-up. Henderson, a third-round draft pick from Memphis, got his first significant playing time on offense against the 49ers. He broke runs of 22 and 14 yards on his first two carries, but fumbled a pitch from quarterback Jared Goff on the first play of the second half, setting the 49ers up for a touchdown that fueled their momentum.
Henderson said Friday he would use the miscue as a learning experience, and turn the negative into a positive. He added that running backs coach Skip Peete consistently tells him to put mistakes behind and get ready for the next play because he can make up for a bad play on the next one.
“I’ve got to learn how to get over stuff and make the next play my best play,” he said.
Running back John Kelly, a 2018 sixth-round draft pick from Tennessee, also will be active for the game.
“It’s a huge difference just from last year to this year,” said Kelly, who was activated from the practice squad before Sunday’s game. “Getting a year of experience under my belt has done a lot for me mentally and physically.”
Goff and the running backs will operate behind an offensive line that has played below the position group’s standard of the last two seasons. Left guard Joe Noteboom suffered a season-ending knee injury against the 49ers, so rookie David Edwards will start in his place.
Edwards, a sixth-round draft pick from Wisconsin, played tackle in college but has worked at tackle and guard since offseason workouts.
“Coming here and being able to learn the different positions gave me the confidence that if I had the opportunity, I would be ready,” Edwards said.
Before he was traded to the Rams on Tuesday, Ramsey had sat out the last three games for the Jacksonville Jaguars because of back soreness and other issues.
Ramsey practiced Thursday and Friday. Asked if he would play Sunday, he said, “We’re going to see.”
McVay said “we’re anticipating him playing.” But when asked if Ramsey would start, McVay said the coaching staff was “still working through” how he might be utilized.
“Even though he’s a younger guy, he’s got a lot of experience in this league,” McVay said. “You just see there’s a confidence, there’s a swagger and there’s a comfort level with just getting out there and competing with his teammates.
“It has been such a small sample size, but when you look at guys that just feel like, ‘Hey, these are these special-type players,’ certainly looks like that’s what he is, just the way he’s carried himself and handled himself over the last couple days.”
Safety Eric Weddle did not practice because he was given a veteran’s rest day. ... Asked if offensive lineman Austin Corbett and linebacker Kenny Young, acquired in trades this week, would play on Sunday, McVay said, “probably not.” ... After practice, the Rams departed for the airport for a flight to Atlanta.