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Rams coach Sean McVay ‘not being an idiot,’ using running back Todd Gurley more

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Todd Gurley’s role in the Los Angeles Rams offense has recently increased.

The reason, according to Rams coach Sean McVay, is quite simple.

“Me not being an idiot,” McVay said Wednesday.

The Rams have sputtered through a 7-5 season as McVay has been hesitant to commit to the run and eager to rely on the passing game. Gurley, once the focal point of McVay’s offense, has been relegated to a role player, sharing a portion of his workload with backups Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson.

Until recently, that is.

Last Sunday, in a 34-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals, Gurley rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Two weeks earlier, Gurley tied a season high as he rushed for 97 yards on a season-best 25 carries in a 17-7 win over the Chicago Bears.

Gurley had at least 100 scrimmage yards in two of his last three games. The only other game he accumulated more than 100 scrimmage yards this season was in a Week 1 win over the Carolina Panthers.

“He’s done a nice job handling a bigger workload,” McVay said.

That should come as no surprise given Gurley is a two-time All Pro and three-time Pro Bowl selection, who the Rams awarded a record-breaking four-year, $60 million extension, with $45 million in guarantees, before last season.

Quarterback Jared Goff chuckled when told that McVay called himself an idiot in regards to Gurley’s usage.

“He’s being hard on himself,” Goff said about McVay. “We all want to get Todd involved as much as possible. I think these last couple of weeks we’ve seen that and good things tend to happen.”

McVay pointed to the Rams’ Week 10 loss to the Steelers as a wake-up call when it comes to Gurley, who was averaging 6.1 yards per carry, but was kept on the sideline early in the fourth quarter, despite the Rams trailing 14-10. By the time Gurley was inserted late in the game, it was too late to utilize the run and the Rams lost, 17-12.

“The Steelers game stands out in terms of where we were running the football well and you didn’t really give him a chance to get back going based on how that thing played out,” McVay said. “You always try to learn from your previous experiences.”

McVay denied Wednesday, as he has throughout the season, that Gurley has been on any sort of load management program.

“It has nothing to do with that,” McVay said. “It was really just, you’re just kind of working through the 2019 season — the best way to utilize all of our players and figuring out what our identity is.”

In 11 games, Gurley has averaged 58 yards on 14 carries, down from the 89 yards on 18 carries that he averaged in 2018, when he rushed for 1,251 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Gurley has rushed for 642 yards and 8 touchdowns and has caught 22 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. He has yet to rush for more than 100 yards in a single game, something he accomplished six times in 2018.

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Gators CB CJ Henderson to miss bowl game, enter NFL draft

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Star Florida cornerback CJ Henderson announced Friday that he will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

Henderson also said he will not participate in the Gators’ bowl game.

“I am excited to be one step closer to turning my lifelong dream into a reality,” he wrote on Twitter.

Henderson is slated to go No. 17 overall on Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest Big Board for ESPN.

He has dealt with an ankle injury this season. In nine games for the Gators (10-2), he has 26 tackles and 11 pass breakups, including three each in SEC showdowns with LSU and Auburn.

The 6-foot-1, 202-pounder had six interceptions combined in 2017 and ’18.



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Raiders starting RT Trent Brown ruled out vs. Titans

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ALAMEDA, Calif. — Oakland Raiders right tackle Trent Brown has been ruled out of the team’s game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Brown, who signed the richest contract for an offensive lineman in NFL history this past offseason at $66 million over four years with $36.75 million in guarantees, suffered a pectoral injury in last week’s loss at Kansas City. He had also been dealing with a knee injury.

“He’s had several injuries this year” said Raiders coach Jon Gruden, “and he’s just not ready to go right now.”

Brandon Parker will start in place of Brown, with David Sharpe backing him up. Gruden would not say if the injury would keep Brown out longer than this week. “We’re going to miss Trent, obviously, but it’s a good opportunity for Brandon,” Gruden said.

Also, rookie running back Josh Jacobs is questionable to play against the Titans as he continues to deal with what he said is a fractured right shoulder.

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Chiefs rule out Damien Williams for Patriots game

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs will play Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots without two of their top three running backs after ruling Damien Williams out because of a rib injury.

The Chiefs earlier in the week placed Darrel Williams on the injured reserve list because of a hamstring injury.

The injuries leave the Chiefs at running back with LeSean McCoy, rookie Darwin Thompson and Spencer Ware. McCoy leads the Chiefs in rushing with 410 yards. Thompson received his first extended playing time in last week’s game against the Raiders. Ware played for the Chiefs from 2015 through last season and led the team in rushing in 2016 but signed only this week.

“They all practiced and took the rotation in there,” coach Andy Reid said. “I’d tell you we’re comfortable with any of them playing.”

While McCoy is the only one of the three available backs to have played a significant role all season, the Chiefs have been hesitant to give him a heavy workload. McCoy hasn’t had more than 12 carries in a game all season and has just 15 total in the past four games. He was even a healthy scratch in a Week 10 game against the Tennessee Titans.

Thompson carried 11 times for 44 yards and a touchdown, all on one drive in the fourth quarter, last week. Otherwise, he has just three carries all season.

Reid indicated the Chiefs might use Ware even though he didn’t practice with them until Wednesday.

“The retention part wasn’t really a big deal,” Reid said. “He picked up right where he left off.

“One of the reasons that you bring him back is just the production from when he was here before. He knows the offense. He doesn’t have to go through that whole thing. It looks like he is in pretty good shape. He hasn’t played football, but he’s in pretty good shape . . . He’s not going to be your starter and go out and play every down. That’s not what he’s doing.”

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