Whether he likes it or not, Todd Gurley has some narratives to dispel this year.
The 25-year-old running back is already facing opinions that he’s washed up because of chronic knee injuries stemming from an ACL tear he suffered while playing at the University of Georgia.
Despite being an all-pro just two seasons ago, Gurley was cut by the Los Angeles Rams in March and signed a one-year, $5.5-million contract with the Atlanta Falcons shortly after.
Now, Gurley and his new employers are heavily promoting his leg health on social media.
He looks healthy. But no one will actually know to what extent until he steps on a football field this fall. Even his new coaches remain skeptical.
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"He can do everything," Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said of Gurley a couple weeks ago, via conference call to media. "He's an excellent runner, he's good in the pass game, he can protect. The main question no one seems to know is, 'What's his health status? What is his workload?'"
Because of COVID-19 closing NFL team facilities, Koetter and Co. haven’t gotten the opportunity to properly evaluate Gurley’s knees yet.
Last season, Gurley carried the ball 223 times for 857 yards — both career lows — and 12 touchdowns. He played in 15 games, but his former head coach, Sean McVay, trimmed the star’s workload.
"Each year you've got to prove yourself," Gurley said after signing 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.”
He has the chance to prove himself in 2020 as the Falcons’ unchallenged starter in the backfield.