No move this offseason was as widely celebrated among Falcons fans than the acquisition of free agent running back Todd Gurley. On Sunday, fans will get their first full look at Gurley in a Falcons uniform as Atlanta takes on the Seattle Seahawks.
It's a fitting first matchup for the former Los Angeles Ram, who has great familiarity with the Seahawks from his days in the NFC West. In nine career games, Gurley has gained 869 total yards and 12 touchdowns against the Seahawks. Pete Carroll, the coach of the Falcons' Week 1 opponent, knows as well as anyone just what Gurley can do on the football field.
"Well he's been an incredible performer," Carroll said. "He's been a dominant factor in the Rams organization for year. Really his overall impact, running game, passing game, blocking; he can do everything. Fantastic competitor, too. He's a great addition to these guys. Scheme-wise, the running game is similar to what it's been like in the past for him, and we can see that. They've got to feel really fortunate to have him on the club."
Going by the team's comments throughout training camp, the Falcons do feel fortunate to have Gurley on their roster. Although he was given plenty of rest during Atlanta's truncated camp, Gurley made plenty of notable plays during practices and was especially impressive during the first of the team's scrimmages at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Falcons averaged the third-fewest rushing yards in the league last season, and they signed Gurley to help fix that. Although there are public concerns about the status of Gurley's knee, he didn't display any discomfort or true reasons to worry in practice. At his best, he's proven to be one of the top running backs in the NFL and a potential MVP candidate.
Gurley becomes another star on a star-studded Falcons offense that also contains Julio Jones and Matt Ryan. Jones had a hand in recruiting Gurley to Atlanta, and they developed a stronger friendship throughout the offseason. The All-Pro receiver is ready to play alongside his new teammate.
"TG looks great; he looks amazing," Jones said. "He always had it, I felt like. Just putting it together, prioritizing in order what he needs to do to be at his best when it's time to go, only he knows that. As far as I've seen out in practice, he looks amazing. In the scrimmages, he looks amazing.
"He's going to do his thing in the run game, I'm going to do my thing in the pass game. For him to do his thing in the run game, I've got to go out there and block. For us to do our thing in the passing game, he's got to sit in there and take care of the protections."
For his part, Ryan has also noticed that Gurley carries himself in a special way. The 2016 league MVP has been fortunate enough to play alongside a former Hall of Famer in tight end Tony Gonzalez as well as some top offensive weapons like Michael Turner, Roddy White and Jones.
In his short time working with Gurley, he's seen some of the similar intangibles that he noticed with the other elite players he's been around.
There’s just an energy level that you feel from him when it’s time to go. The great players that I’ve been around in my career have that ability to do it. You see it. You feel it. He gives off that kind of vibe when you’re around him. Certainly, that felt like the case in our scrimmages when we were down at the stadium. You could feel his intensity. It’s hard to describe, but you know it when you’re around it. I’ve been around some great players to know what that looks like, and he certainly has that. Matt Ryan
"There's just an energy level that you feel from him when it's time to go," Ryan said. "The great players that I've been around in my career have that ability to do it. You see it. You feel it. He gives off that kind of vibe when you're around him. Certainly, that felt like the case in our scrimmages when we were down at the stadium. You could feel his intensity. It's hard to describe, but you know it when you're around it. I've been around some great players to know what that looks like, and he certainly has that."
After all of the offseason talk about what Gurley would look like in Atlanta's offense, the time for talk is coming to a close. On Sunday, he will take the field, wearing red and black for the first time since his days at Georgia.
Todd Gurley's first season with the Falcons is about to officially begin.
"Week 1, playing against Seattle, a team I'm super familiar with being able to play against those guys nine times, I feel good, I can't complain," Gurley said. "I had a great plan like I've always had over the last couple of years to be able to have some off days here but then also be able to get practice in. I'm just feeling good, ready to go Sunday. It will be here before you know it."