LARRY LAGE, AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) — So far, this has not been the Todd Gurley who was the NFL’s top offensive rookie.
Gurley is off to a sluggish start, averaging 2.7 yards per carry and running for no more than 85 yards in any of the first five games. The Los Angeles Rams running back got off much better a year ago when he had had at least 128 yards rushing in four of his first five games.
With teams figuring out how to slow him down, the Rams are averaging an NFL-low 284.2 yards a game on offense.
The Rams (3-2) still plan to keep giving him the ball early and often, with handoffs and passes, Sunday at Detroit.
“He’s a big-play guy and we’ve just got to find ways to give him the football,” Los Angeles coach Jeff Fisher said.
The Lions (2-3) are bracing for the challenge of preventing Gurley from having a breakout game. They also hope to keep their distinction as the NFL’s only team that hasn’t given up a rushing touchdown this season.
Up close, they saw how good the 6-foot-1, 227-pound Gurley could be last year. Gurley ran 16 times for 140 yards, a career-high 8.75 yards per carry, and two TDs in a 21-14 win over Detroit in St. Louis.
“He’ll probably touch the ball 25 to 30 times between running and passing,” Lions safety Glover Quin said. “He makes them go. He’s very unique back. He’s big, strong. He’s fast. He’s quick. He’s shifty. He’s got the total package.”
Here are some other things to watch when the Lions host the Rams:
TWO-STOP ROAD TRIP: The Rams have been on the move a lot, relocating to Los Angeles from St. Louis and bouncing around to three cities for offseason workouts, training camp and the regular season. Perhaps the unsettling transition prepares the Rams for quite a road trip. After playing in Detroit at 1 p.m. EDT, a challenging kickoff time for West Coast teams, the Rams plan to fly Sunday to London. After having days to adjust, Los Angeles will play the Giants on the afternoon of Oct. 23 when it is 6:30 a.m. back home.
“Really, nobody really knows what we’ve been through since last March,” Fisher said. “But we’re settled in and the players are resilient and they’re focused.”
ANTICIPATING ANSAH: The Lions have played much of the season without one of their best players, defensive end Ezekiel Ansah . He hurt his left ankle early in Week 2 and missed three-plus games.
“He’s a Pro Bowl player and you miss those guys,” Detroit defensive Teryl Austin acknowledged. “You’d like to say you don’t miss them and we’ve had guys that have done an outstanding job in his absence, but they’re not Ziggy.”
Ansah looked very healthy in practice, shooting out of his stance to work on rushing the passer earlier this week.
THIN LINE: Los Angeles was without three starting defensive linemen last week and the Buffalo Bills took advantage, gaining 193 yards on the ground, led by LeSean McCoy’s 150 yards. DEs Robert Quinn (shoulder) and William Hayes (ankle) along with tackle Michael Brockers (hip) didn’t face the Bills and were unable to practice at all Wednesday, raising doubts about their ability to play in Detroit. The Rams do have DT Aaron Donald, a healthy and potentially dominant player they can count on up front. Donald had a career-high three sacks in last year’s win over the Lions and has two sacks in the last two games.
BANGED-UP BACKFIELD: The Lions signed veteran running back Justin Forsett on Tuesday, adding a much-needed player to their banged-up backfield. Ameer Abdullah is on injured reserve with a foot injury. His backup, Theo Riddick, is dealing with an ankle injury that kept him out of practice Thursday. Rookie Dwayne Washington missed last week’s game with an ankle injury and wasn’t cleared to practice Thursday. The 30-year-old Forsett had just 31 carries for 98 yards over three games as a starter this season with the Baltimore Ravens. He asked for, and was granted, his release from the Ravens last week. Forsett ran for 1,266 yards in 2014 and 641 last year in 10 starts before breaking his arm. Forsett said the only thing he has seen in Detroit has been the Lions’ playbook.
What does he have left?
“Watch me,” Forsett said with a smile.
HURRY UP, AND WAIT: Jared Goff , the No. 1 overall draft pick, hasn’t been playing as a rookie for the Rams, unlike Matthew Stafford, who started right away after Detroit drafted him No. 1 overall in 2009. Goff is relegated to learning by watching Case Keenum, and that doesn’t sound as if it will change anytime soon.
“I’m going to play him when he’s ready,” Fisher said.
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