NEW ORLEANS, LA (WLOX) - When the Saints and Rams last met back in November, New Orleans did about as good of a job as you can expect containing Todd Gurley.
The Rams standout running back collected only 68 yards on 13 carries, but containing the Rams rushing attack in the NFC Championship Game may not be so simple. Gurley, and his newfound counterpart C.J. Anderson, racked up 238 rushing yards and three touchdowns in their divisional round victory against the Dallas Cowboys.
“(He’s a) tough guy to tackle," Saints head coach Sean Payton said of Anderson. "When you partner him, obviously, with Gurley, those guys looked real good last week.”
“Beginning of the season it was all Todd, all Todd,” Saints defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth said. “Now you got CJ in there, he’s a great back too. Now they’ve got two backs back there that you really gotta go, okay, (we) gotta really prepare for them.”
What complicates matters more is losing standout defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins from the heart of the interior with a torn Achilles, suffered in their 20-14 win against Philadelphia. However, guys like Stallworth and David Onyemata are ready to step up in his absence.
“Actually, me and Coach talked about this last week," Stallworth said. "He was like, you’re a better player than what you was when you first got here. I can really see that and every day I still try to get better.”
“You know, that is a big loss," Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport said of Rankins. But we’re gonna have to get back to work, and that’s what we’re working on today. Just trying to still improve even without him.”
The Saints did allow only 80.2 rushing yards per game in the regular season, the second-best average in the NFL. And, despite the loss of Rankins, the majority of the group responsible for that number is ready to go for the NFC Championship Game. Kick-off set for 2:05 p.m. from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this Sunday.