Dirk Koetter said a lot of flattering things about running back Todd Gurley on Thursday. Koetter, the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator, said that Gurley is "a heck of a player" that can do everything well as it relates to playing the running back position. Koetter also admitted that Gurley's health and how much he can be used within Atlanta's offense is in question.
"The main question is that no one seems to know is what's his health status?" Koetter said, via ESPN's Vaughn McClure. "What's his workload? He averaged about 17 touches a game last year, which is a little lower than he had been when he was All-Pro. We're just gonna have to find that out once we get here and get him working, get him up and running."
Gurley, who signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Falcons after being released by the Rams earlier this offseason, is coming off a 2019 season that saw him average just 3.8 yards per carry, his lowest mark since 2016. He also rushed for a career-low 857 yards while receiving just 223 carries, the lowest total of his career.
Gurley's health has been a major question mark since the end of the 2018 season, when he was barely a factor in the Rams' loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. Gurley's trainer, Travelle Gaines, told CBS Sports last offseason that his client is dealing with an "arthritic component to his knee." It was reported prior to the season that the Rams would try to limit Gurley's workload in order to help keep him fresh for the duration of the season. Gurley's became a hot button topic throughout the Rams' 2019 season, as Los Angeles failed to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2016.
While Koetter clearly has concerns over Gurley's health, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said last month that the team did its due diligence with regard to Gurley's knee.
"We looked closely at it. We have language our contracts that will protect us and the player," Dimitroff said in a conference call with Falcons reporters, via William McFadden of the Falcons website. "He really takes care of his body well. We feel very comfortable with it. He's a hard-charging runner and we're counting on him being an excellent player for us."
Despite the questions regarding Gurley's health, the Falcons did not use any of their six draft picks on a running back. Along with Gurley, Atlanta's running back room currently consists of Brian Hill, Qadree Ollison, and Ito Smith. The trio of Hill, Ollison and Smith combined to rush for 479 yards and seven touchdowns for the Falcons in 2019.
It appears that the Falcons will have to wait a little longer before truly finding out the status of Gurley's knee, as the NFL on Wednesday through May.