ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
AP file photo by Tony Avelar / Todd Gurley was one of the NFL's most productive running backs as a rusher and a receiver the past five seasons, his first five in the league and all with the Rams, but now he's with the Atlanta Falcons.

ATLANTA — Former University of Georgia star Todd Gurley has cleared the final hurdle for his return to the Peach State with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons said Tuesday that the 25-year-old running back passed his physical Monday in Atlanta.

Gurley's $6 million, one-year deal with the Falcons was made official April 6. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL didn't allow players to report to their new teams immediately for physicals.

Gurley's physical was notable because he has a history of knee problems, including an injury while a college standout for the Bulldogs. A persistent left knee injury limited his effectiveness late in 2018 with the Los Angeles Rams, but he played in 15 games last season.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said Tuesday he recently spent time with Gurley in California and was impressed.

"I was able to spend a couple of weeks getting to know him a little better, getting a feel for him as an athlete," Ryan said. "He's extremely versatile as an athlete. He looked great. He looked healthy and ready to go. I was impressed with that."

Gurley also impressed Ryan when the two discussed the Falcons' playbook.

"The thing that struck me the most, though, is how smart of a player he is, and his ability to retain information and not have to circle back on things the next day," Ryan said. "If I told him once how we were trying to work something or a route concept or what we were expecting, he doesn't forget it. He was back the next day, on top of it and doing it the right way."

The Falcons expect Gurley to replace Devonta Freeman, who was released, as the leader of the Falcons' running attack.

Gurley topped 1,000 yards in three of his five seasons with the Rams, but last season he ran for just 857 yards and averaged 3.8 yards per carry, numbers that rank as the worst and second-worst, respectively, in his professional career.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT