Todd Gurley looks healthy. Much has been said about his health in recent seasons, and those concerns didn't exactly go away when the Los Angeles Rams decided to release him in 2020, just two years after making him the highest-paid running back in NFL history on a four-year, $60 million contract extension that included $45 million guaranteed. One theory for head coach Sean McVay attempting to manage Gurley's workload just before the two split was due to concerns with the latter's health, with reports ahead of the 2019 season stating the three-time All-Pro was battling arthritis in his knee that was surgically repaired after he suffered a torn ACL in his final season at Georgia.
While neither McVay nor anyone in the Rams' organization ever substantiated the claim, the club's utilization of Gurley in 2019 dropped to career-low 223 rushing attempts, leading to a career-low in rushing yards (857) while delivering the second-lowest yards per carry output (3.8) of his otherwise stellar NFL career. It all led to a contentious split in the end, and now the three-time Pro Bowler, who signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons, has much to prove in his Georgia homecoming.
That is especially true with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter adding fuel to the fire regarding the status of his health.
"He can do everything," Koetter said, via the team's official website. "He's an excellent runner, he's good in the pass game [and] he can protect. The main question no one seems to know is, 'What's his health status? What is his workload?'"
The back end of the comment led many to wonder if the Falcons were getting a lemon in Gurley, but his recent conditioning videos strongly suggest otherwise. If anything, it's clear he wants the world to know his knee is doing just fine.
For his part, Gurley is focused on the what's on the horizon and not what's in his rear view mirror.
"Each year you've got to prove yourself," Gurley noted after signing on with the Falcons. "Nobody cares about what you're doing in this league, you've got to prove yourself each week, you've got to prove yourself each year. I'm just excited for the opportunity to come play football in Atlanta. To be with one of the best receivers, a great QB, an MVP. Like I said, I'm just excited, honestly.
"For the most part, whatever I can do as far as helping the team out, I'll just play my role."
With the decision to release Devonta Freeman and sign Gurley, it stands to reason that if he can regain form in North Georgia, the Falcons will depend heavily on him as both a halfback and receiver out of the backfield. Despite rumors surrounding the durability of his knee, Gurley still has the potential to be one of the top running backs in the league and has only missed four games since 2016, going so far as to get upset at the Rams for not using him more last season.
He'll likely find that won't be an issue with the Falcons, as the former Bulldog returns to Georgia to re-establish a brand created in that very state.