A year ago at this time, the Rams were pinning the hopes of their running game and offense to Gurley, the No. 10 overall pick. That might not have been so bad were it not for the fact Gurley was unable to participate in the team's organized team activities and was still recovering from a torn left ACL.
Understandably, Gurley had his share of trepidation about opening up to the media and talking about football when he wasn't yet able to play. Any of that caution has been swept away underneath an Offensive Rookie of the Year award and Gurley's new-found Hollywood stage.
At one point during his Wednesday media session, Gurley was asked how he liked the "California Classic" burger that he is now endorsing for fast-food chain Carl's Jr.
Without missing a beat, Gurley laughed and went right back into pitchman mode.
“The burger was excellent," Gurley said. "Go get the California Classic Burger from Carl’s Jr. There’s one right up the street, so I don’t want to hear any excuses.”
Gurley's gregarious mood was undoubtedly correlated to the fact he had just completed his second organized team activity. While rehabbing his knee last year, Gurley spent most of his time working on the sideline with athletic trainer Byron Cunningham, and most of that work was limited to running in a straight line.
Sure, Gurley attempted to jump into the huddle every once in awhile just to get some mental reps, but it was nothing like what he was able to do Wednesday, when he worked with the first team. Gurley has been so engrossed in his first full offseason program Rams coach Jeff Fisher has almost had to tell him to dial it back.
“He’s not missed a day and he’s running extra after practice," Fisher said. "He’s doing everything to the point where you almost say, ‘Let’s back down a little bit.’ He’s had an impressive offseason.”
One of the unintended consequences of Gurley's voracious appetite for offseason workouts (even over hamburgers) -- he trained at EXOS performance center in Los Angeles -- was a fairly dramatic weight loss of about 10 to 15 pounds. Gurley was listed at 231 pounds a year ago, which would put him in the 216- to 221-pound range right now.
According to Gurley, that wasn't by design, but it's also not an unwelcome development.
“I don’t know what happened this offseason," Gurley said. "I was just losing weight. It’s probably just having the first offseason not doing anything for about a month or two. I feel fine how I am. I’m not going to add weight.”
Being back for these OTAs figures to do more than help Gurley get physically ready. While he could hear play calls and go through them in his mind last year, he gets to actually translate what he's learning on to the field this year. That's especially important with Rob Boras now the full-time offensive coordinator and Skip Peete stepping in as running backs coach.
With a chance to have a full offseason program, Gurley is looking to expand his game in other ways beyond his success running the ball. At the end of the 2015 season, Gurley hoped to be more involved in the passing game going forward.
"I’ve got to get more catches this year, stay healthy and then run the ball," Gurley said.
“I just kind of do my game," Gurley said. "I feel like sometimes I can be a natural leader more in terms of being in the weight room, working hard. Guys see that and they feed off of that. So, just basically doing what I’m doing, not doing anything extra and making sure I’m holding myself accountable, as well as my teammates.”
Earlier this offseason, the NFLPA placed Gurley at the top of its "rising stars" list, which is intended to "identify the players best positioned to rank among top sellers of all officially licensed merchandise and become future retail stars." Already armed with endorsements for Jolly Rancher candy and now Carl's Jr., more opportunities are sure to come Gurley's way in the country's second-largest media market.
Just like the chance to participate in a full offseason program, those are opportunities that Gurley is openly embracing.
“This is my first offseason and I’m in Cali," Gurley said. "We just moved here. I’m excited, back at OTAs, back doing football and enjoying a new city. So, it’s definitely been exciting for sure.”