ST. LOUIS, Mo. — If you showed up late, you missed it.
Sam Bradford’s handoff to receiver Tavon Austin was the first play of Saturday’s scrimmage at the Edward Jones Dome.
It was also the first play Austin was asked about after the practice session came to its end.
“That’s where my heart has always been,” Austin said with a smile. “Running back. That’s where I played my whole life. Hopefully there will be times they put me back there, and I get a couple of carries a game. For the most part, my home is slot receiver.”
For the most part, the Rams’ first pick in the 2013 draft (No. 8 selection overall) is in St. Louis to catch passes — something he showed often Saturday. But the West Virginia star is also comfortable running the ball. He averaged 8.9 yards per carry as a senior, compiled 643 yards on the ground and scored three rushing touchdowns.
The St. Louis backfield is set to enter the preseason with multiple players jostling for touches. Second-year backs Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson should be the top two options. Rookie Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham will try to prove their worth as well.
But Austin’s handoff to start Saturday’s scrimmage showed we shouldn’t count the 5-foot-8, 176-pound receiver out of the mix. He will run the ball this year. The question isn’t if, but how much.
“You’re going to have to come out and watch and see,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “He is versatile as you say. Obviously, there’s things that everybody does across the league in camp that they don’t show until the regular season.”