FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower expects Rams running back Todd Gurley to revert to his All-Pro persona when the teams clash in the Super Bowl on Sunday in Atlanta.

Gurley was a nonfactor in the Rams’ 26-23 overtime victory against the Saints in the NFC title game, when Los Angeles managed only 77 rushing yards on 26 attempts. Gurley had 10 yards on four carries and was used sparingly in the second half, fueling speculation he reinjured his left knee.

He missed the final two games of the regular season with an inflamed knee but insisted he wasn’t benched because of an injury. His formidable capabilities as a rusher, receiver and play-action decoy make him the biggest threat in the Rams’ arsenal.

“They are using him in a lot more (ways) than you have seen in the past and I think that’s something that really helps him,” said Hightower. “He’s a great running back with the ball in his hands and he’s a great athlete without the ball in his hands.

“So any chance, you try to get him the ball, and I don’t expect them not to. We are doing everything we can to learn about him.”

The Rams finished the regular season with the league’s second-ranked offense and third-best ground game. In 14 games, Gurley rushed for 1,251 yards on 256 carries for a stellar 4.9 average and 17 touchdowns. He complimented that effort with 59 receptions for 580 yards and four touchdowns.

The Rams acquired journeyman running back C.J. Anderson as an emergency fill for Gurley in the final two games of the regular season. Anderson rushed for more than 100 yards in those games and, when aligned with Gurley, ran roughshod over the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round.


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