Todd Gurley is ready to thrive in Rams' Hollywood spotlight
OXNARD, Calif. (AP) Todd Gurley has lost more than 10 pounds since his rookie season with the Rams ended, and he isn't exactly sure how it happened.
It wasn't for a lack of burgers, though.
Gurley's new television commercial for the Carl's Jr. fast food chain is his boldest step yet into the magnified spotlight on him ever since the Rams went Hollywood.
Alongside No. 1 pick Jared Goff at quarterback, Gurley could be the breakthrough star of their move to Los Angeles - but the franchise running back realizes the Rams need to win, too.
''This is my first offseason, and I'm in Cali,'' Gurley said on a picture-perfect summer day after participating in organized team activities at the Rams' temporary offseason home in coastal Ventura County. ''We just moved here. I'm excited (to be) back doing football and enjoying a new city. It's definitely been exciting, for sure.''
The move to sunny Southern California has been welcomed by most players, and Gurley even got here early: He started working out in Los Angeles shortly after the Rams missed the playoffs in St. Louis.
That's a big change from last summer. While the months before his rookie season were devoted to recovery from a serious knee injury, Gurley is fully healthy and determined to build on the promising start to his NFL career.
''He's not missed a day, and he's running extra after practice,'' Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. ''He looked pretty good running a straight line a year ago at this time. He's doing everything (this year) to the point where you almost say, `Let's back down a little bit.' He's had an impressive offseason.''
Gurley feels confident in his second year in the Rams' offense, which has been tweaked by new chief offensive assistant Rob Boras. Gurley is also adjusting well to new running backs coach Skip Peete, praising the veteran assistant's style.
''It feels good being back out here,'' Gurley said. ''Last year this time, I wasn't.''
Indeed, Gurley's 2015 rise to become the Offensive Rookie of the Year began with several months in which he couldn't practice regularly with his teammates.
He was limited largely to straight-line running in the months of offseason workouts after the Rams risked the 10th overall pick on his game-breaking talent. Gurley stood on the sidelines with the Rams' athletic trainers while his teammates practiced, and he didn't play in their first two regular-season games.
After a quiet start in their third game, Gurley literally hit his stride and quickly captivated the league with his elusiveness and speed. He had four straight 100-yard games before settling into a steadily productive groove, finishing with 1,106 yards rushing - 4.8 yards per carry - and 10 touchdowns.
Gurley doesn't turn 22 years old until August, and he feels he'll be more useful as a vocal leader in the weight room than on the field. He is focused on refining his technique while increasing his role in the Rams' passing offense, which was the NFL's worst last season.
Gurley has already secured a few endorsements beyond the Carl's Jr. deal, including a sponsorship with a candy company. More deals are undoubtedly coming in a city that loves a charismatic winner - and just lost Kobe Bryant to retirement.
And Gurley isn't looking to increase his intake of cheeseburgers and candy to recoup that lost weight, either.
''It's probably just having the first offseason not doing anything for about a month or two,'' Gurley said of his diminished bulk. ''I feel fine how I am. I'm not going to add weight.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL