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The Atlanta Falcons took the chance on Todd Gurley this offseason, hoping to get bang for their buck in the 26-year-old running back returning to his All-Pro form. Atlanta is doing everything it can to have Gurley ready for the season opener, taking it easy on him with limited practices in training camp. 

Once the regular season starts, all bets are off. Falcons offensive coordinator — and play-caller — Dirk Koetter has a set number of touches he wants to give Gurley in an attempt to balance out the offense. 

“I think a minimum of 15 touches and a high of (25),” Koetter said, via ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. “But you’ve got to realize we’ve got a lot of guys that need touches. You’re going to have 64 plays in a game on average on offense. Depending on where you’re at in the season and wear and tear, I think the low is 15 and maybe the high end 25.

“Some of that depends on score and where you’re at in the game. Are you ahead and running it? Are you getting in four-minute, and how are you running the ball that week? There’s a lot of factors in there. But again, the low end 15 and the high end 25.”

The 254 touches Gurley received last year were his lowest since his rookie season (2015) as he averaged 16.9 touches per game. In the previous two seasons, Gurley averaged 22.7 touches per game — he led the NFL with 40 total touchdowns and 2,556 rushing yards during that span. Even with last year’s struggles, Gurley still is second in the NFL in rushing yards (3,343) and and first in touchdowns (54) over the past three seasons. Gurley has 15 more touchdowns than any other player in the league and his 4,988 yards from scrimmage are third in the NFL. 

The Falcons are determined to prove Gurley still can play at an All-Pro level. The key for Gurley is his body holding up, which is where the maximum of 25 touches a game comes in. If Gurley gets around those 22.7 touches a game, look out. 

“I think it’s definitely there,” Koetter said. “You can tell what a good pro Todd is. The way he works at it, he asks great questions. His experience in the outside zone game that he had with the Rams, he knows the tracks. He knows where the cutbacks are supposed to be based on the blocking scheme.”

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