Gurley knows that every day could be the day, the day the Rams give him the green light and tell him he’ll be in the lineup in that week’s game.
“Man, I wake up hyped to get the opportunity but I just have to prepare and just stay focused and calm, not get too overexcited,” Gurley said.
That day hasn’t quite arrived yet, but it’s coming soon. Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Tuesday that Gurley is not being counted out for this week’s game against the Washington Redskins.
“There’s always that possibility,” Fisher said. “I ruled him out in the preseason and ruled him out last week. I’m not ruling him out right now. We’ll see how he does. But this is a medical decision, a trainer decision, a collective decision but we’ll see how he does this week.”
While not ruling Gurley out is not the same as saying Gurley will play, it’s a certain sign of progress in Gurley’s recovery from the torn ACL he suffered last November.
From the day the Rams drafted Gurley with the No. 10 overall pick in April, the Rams have focused him on a diet of steady progress. He worked on the side in organized team activities but has checked off a list of goals along the way.
First it was being on the active roster at the start of training camp. Then it was getting cleared to start participating in team drills. Then it was removing the yellow “no contact” beanie. On Tuesday, it was getting his first chance to take reps with the first-team offense, a plan the Rams will ramp up as the week goes on.
“I feel good,” Gurley said. “Just being back used to things and getting in the flow of things and in the offense.”
The Rams and Gurley should get a better sense of how far along he is on Wednesday, when they have their fully padded practice for the week. That will be Gurley’s first chance to work with the first-team offense in a real practice setting rather than working with the scout team.
From a football standpoint, both Gurley and Fisher expressed confidence that he could play if need be. But Gurley also still has some football conditioning to do, something he acknowledged Tuesday evening.
“That’s still a part of the process,” Gurley said. “Game and practice are a lot different. Of course I expect myself to push through it, but sometimes you are just going to be tired. That just comes with getting a feel for things and getting those reps.”
That Gurley hasn’t had those reps and probably won’t get enough this week to get up to speed could be an indicator that he’s probably still another week away. A more realistic target date could be Sept. 27 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Washington’s FedEx Field is also known for being one of the sloppier playing surfaces in the league. Though it’s grass, it might not be ideal for Gurley’s debut.
Nonetheless, Fisher and the Rams will at least let Gurley get reps this week and see where he is at the end of it. Even if it doesn’t mean he’ll play against the Redskins, that time is clearly coming sooner than later.
“That was the goal once I got drafted by the Rams,” Gurley said. “I sat down and had a conversation and they just told me what the goal was and I was going to start camp off just doing individual and steady progression working my way up. It’s almost that time. It’s getting closer. I’m excited about that.”