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Report: Todd Gurley passes physical, clearing last hurdle to lead Falcons backfield in 2020

Gurley will have to still put 2019’s lackluster production behind him, but this is great news.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Before slightly bigger news began to dominate the landscape, we gave a lot of time and energy here to the signing of Todd Gurley. It was an unexpected move that made a lot of Georgia fans happy, gave the team a potential dominant feature back, and raised a ton of questions, all at the same time.

Most of those questions concerned health. Even Dirk Koetter got in on stirring up that particular hornet’s nest, which is easy to do because of the difficulty of sorting out how much of Gurley’s career-worst efficiency numbers in 2019 were because of the Rams and their weird management of his workload or because of the effects of his arthritis.

It doesn’t answer all those question or guarantee a great 2020, but Gurley made it to Atlanta and took his physical yesterday. Per Adam Schefter, he passed, which removed the last significant hurdle for him to be Atlanta’s lead back this season.

All that remains now is for the Falcons to get a closer look at him on the field, for Koetter and company to sort out how they’ll divvy up carries for Gurley, Ito Smith, and the rest of the crew, and for Gurley to enjoy the bounceback season that will both help him regain his status as one of the league’s best backs and help the Falcons shake off the stink of two straight lost seasons.

The passed physical does not mean that Gurley won’t deal with arthritis—that’ll be a lifelong concern for the gifted back—but it does mean he’s healthy enough to sign the contract and that the Falcons expect him to contribute. Atlanta will have to figure out whether he’s up to a feature back workload or whether they’ll need to spell him on early downs at times with Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison and on third downs with Ito Smith. Either way, what we’re all hoping for is a version of Gurley that plays at an elite level in the snaps he does get, because that would be a massive lift for this ground game and this offense. I’m cautiously optimistic we’ll get it.