C.J. Anderson says Todd Gurley was 'more hurt than what we thought' when he signed with the Rams
Gurley barely saw the field in the playoffs, but the Rams have insisted that he was completely healthy
It's been two weeks since the Super Bowl and the mystery surrounding Todd Gurley's strange absence has yet to be cleared up.
All along, the Rams have maintained that Gurley was healthy during the playoffs and -- with Gurley saying he simply got out-played by C.J. Anderson in the NFC Championship Game and Sean McVay saying he didn't do a good enough job getting his star running back involved. To no one's surprise, neither of those responses have been considered satisfactory answers to the biggest mystery of the playoffs.
On Tuesday, Anderson provided more support to the theory that Gurley was dealing with a knee injury during the playoffs, hence his decreased workload. During an appearance on FS1's "Undisputed," Anderson revealed that when he arrived in Los Angeles, Gurley was more hurt than anyone initially thought, including the Rams and Gurley.
"He was more hurt than what we thought," Anderson said. "The injury was a little bit more than what everybody in the building thought, including himself."
So what was the injury? Anderson described it as a sprained knee, but he couldn't call it that with any kind of certainty.
"He'd never really tell me. It was tough. I would say sprained knee," Anderson said. "Obviously, it's the same knee injury he's had before in his career. Obviously, I had surgery on my meniscus and once you have a knee, you always have a knee. So it aggravates. If he was getting a lot of touches earlier in the year -- obviously, him being one of the best running backs that probably was the case."
Gurley dealt with a knee injury at both the beginning and which led to the Rams sitting him for their final two games of the season and signing Anderson to fill in. Anderson played well in relief of Gurley in Weeks 16 and 17, rushing for 299 yards and two touchdowns as the Rams secured a first-round playoff bye.
When it came time for their playoff run to begin against the Cowboys in the divisional round, Anderson and Gurley shared touches, and both of them thrived. Gurley rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries while Anderson racked up 123 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
Gurley certainly looked healthy.
But Gurley was almost entirely absent in the NFC title game, garnering four carries for 10 yards and dropping a couple of passes in the early going while Anderson carried the ball 16 times for 44 yards.
"When we came in, we knew both of us were going to be used," Anderson said about the NFC Championship Game. "Now, I don't think it was a hot-hand thing because it was more like -- it was up front. I was receptive to tell like, 'If Todd wants to go he wants to go.' And I was OK with that. Obviously, he got them there, 21 touchdowns this year, what he's done in this league since he's been in has been great. So it was more like, 'C.J., we're going to play you, but if our guy wants the ball and if he wants to go and he wants to do this, then we're going to roll with 30,' and that was OK with me."
After the win over the Saints, McVay indicated that he'd try to get Gurley more involved in the Super Bowl while Gurley sounded grateful that he would get another chance to contribute after a no-show against the Saints. Gurley took on the majority of the touches in the Super Bowl, but once again, his involvement was lacking. Against the Patriots, Gurley carried the ball only 10 times for 35 yards.
His lack of involvement that can be at least partially attributed to the fact that the Patriots' defense stymied the Rams' offense and limited them to one field goal and 4.3 yards per play, but it's still concerning that the running back whocarried the 10 times in the Super Bowl after being one of the Rams' most important players over the past couple seasons.
On the one hand, this could all be easily explained away by his knee troubles. On the other hand, maybe the Rams simply felt like Anderson was playing better than Gurley and gave them the best chance to win. Both would be cause for concern, because either Gurley is dealing with a nagging knee injury that could bother him in the years to come (as Anderson said, "once you have a knee, you always have a knee") or Gurley managed to get out-played by a running back who joined the Rams in mid-December.
Gurley will almost assuredly be back next season to prove that the strange ending to his season was nothing more than an aberration, but it's not clear if the Rams will bring Anderson back. If the Rams do re-sign him, Anderson understands that he won't be replacing Gurley, despite what unfolded in the playoffs.
"It's Todd's team," Anderson said. "It's still Todd's team, no matter what happens, even if I come back."
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