The first time running back Todd Gurley was chosen for the Pro Bowl, the Rams suffered a losing season, leaving the then rookie with no other postseason commitments.
Gurley participated happily in the exhibition at the end of January.
Now, for the second time in three years, Gurley is one of the leaders in the Pro Bowl vote, ranking sixth among the players in all positions.
Gurley receives recognition from fans, but aims to have a full calendar when the Pro Bowl is played the week before the Super Bowl.
"I want to be able to continue playing and competing for a Super Bowl," said Gurley on Thursday, "and that is everyone's goal."
Gurley and NFC West – The Rams leaders will continue their playoff push on Sunday when they play against the Philadelphia Eagles leaders of the NFC East at the Coliseum.
Gurley has run for 939 yards and eight touchdowns. He has caught 48 pbades for 563 yards and three touchdowns.
Gurley and Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson are the only players in franchise history to accumulate 1,500 yards since hitting and score 10 touchdowns in the first 12 games of a season.
Gurley's excellent performance has helped the Rams rank among league leaders in scoring for most of the season. They are linked with the Eagles, averaging 30.1 points per game.
The first-year Rams coach, Sean McVay, has taken advantage of Gurley's ability to catch pbades, adding a dimension to Gurley's skill set and the Rams' offense, Eagles Coach Doug Pederson said
"The biggest addition to the offense is his ability to catch the ball in many different places," Pederson said. "You've seen him catch balls in the seam, out of the backfield, the screen goes by, moving it around."
It will not be surprising if McVay resorts to Gurley as a catcher against an Eagles defense that ranks third overall and the first against the race, leaving only 68.1 yards per game on the ground.
Attack Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan and linebacker Mychal Kendricks are among the Eagles players who will try to close Gurley.
"I love being in a game like this," said Gurley, adding, "You have to beat the best to be the best." That's why I play: being one of the best. "
Gurley would appreciate the honor of being chosen for another Pro Bowl, the fan vote ends on December 14, with players and coaches on December 15, but it's focused on the Rams' biggest goals.
"If I go in, I get in," he said. "If I do not, it will not be the end of the world."
The Eagles also have a formidable ground attack with runners LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and rookie Corey Clement, and 6 feet and 5 feet tall, 237-pound Field Marshal Carson Wentz.
Wentz ran for 283 yards and 26 first downs, for an offense that averages 143.3 yards per game, second in the NFL.
"Every time you have a quarterback who adds the yard, it makes you one of the best fast attack teams too, "said the Rams defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips. "So, they have all that."
The Rams have yielded long runs in the first half of several games, but they have made adjustments and closed the opponents' ground attacks in the second half.
They have abandoned 122.8 yards rushing per game, which is 27th, but they have only left 18.5 points, which is seventh.
"We have to stop the race well enough to win the game," Phillips said. "We have not been dominating against the race, but I have not given up too many points and that's the first thing."
Lineb Ackers Alec Ogletree (elbow), Connor Barwin (forearm) and Mark Barron (rest) and safety Lamarcus Joyner (shoulder) did not participate in the practice. McVay said Friday's practice would serve as "a great yardstick" for Ogletree's willingness to play. Barwin will not play on Sunday, but Barron and Joyner are expected to be ready. … Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth (rest), center John Sullivan (rest) and cornerback Dominique Hatfield (hip) were limited.
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