ST. LOUIS -- Despite Todd Gurley being ahead of schedule in his return from injury, the St. Louis Rams aren't counting on the first-round pick right away.
General manager Les Snead said Thursday that Gurley was impressive in conditioning tests earlier this week with just the rookies on the field for one of the hottest days of the summer.
"The thing about Todd is he's a large man coming off an ACL, it's really hot and he's rolling," Snead said. "It's very impressive that all of our rookies passed the test in that heat. It could have humbled a lot of guys."
All of the veteran players also passed the conditioning test on Thursday. The first full-squad workout is Friday.
The Rams enter training camp confident they're ready to contend in the NFC West, especially if newly acquired quarterback Nick Foles can stay healthy. St. Louis played its last 25 games without Sam Bradford, sidelined by a torn left ACL for two straight seasons.
"I anticipate us contending for the West," Snead said. "I'm planning on it, expecting it, and not scared."
Gurley is rehabbing from left knee surgery that cost him part of his final year at Georgia. Snead said the running back "still needs time." Snead added there was no "black and white answer" for when the 10th pick of the draft might be ready to contribute.
"It's all gray, so you have to kind of measure him on a weekly basis to see where he's at," Snead said.
Gurley did enough in six games last season to be selected as Georgia offensive MVP. He had 911 yards rushing with a 7.4-yard average, including a 208-yard game against Tennessee to go with nine touchdowns.
Mason had 765 yards rushing with a 4.3-yard average with nine starts. Cunningham had 45 receptions with a 7.8-yard average and 246 yards rushing with a 3.7-yard average.
Defense might have to carry the team for a while. All 11 starters are back, plus the top backups, too.
"Obviously, there's more continuity on that side of the ball," Snead said. "Early on you would love for them as we gel on offense, to be the bell cow."
Offensive line is the biggest unsettled area on the team. Two rookies, second-rounder Rob Havenstein and third-rounder Jamon Brown, are set to start and the center will be a former backup, probably either Barrett Jones or Tim Barnes.
Snead said that might lead to some simplification in the play-calling.
"You figure that out along the way," the GM said. "But it never reaches a level where, `Wait a minute, we're handicapped.'"
The newcomers will be getting as many repetitions as possible, which could mean playing deeper into preseason games to gain experience before the Sept. 13 opener against NFC champion Seattle at home.
Snead said three days of practices with the Cowboys in Oxnard, California, also will be invaluable.
The lone injury concern is sixth-round pick Cody Wichmann, a guard who injured a leg in OTAs and will be on the PUP list.