Rams need to get offensive playmakers Gurley, Austin more involved
ST. LOUIS — The woebegone St. Louis Rams’ offense might do well to get Tavon Austin more involved. It would be nice for all those kids up front to open a few holes for Todd Gurley, too.
Austin had one carry for 16 yards and one reception for 5 yards, both coming in the second half of Sunday’s loss at Baltimore.
"Two touches was not enough for him last week," coach Jeff Fisher said Tuesday. "We had a lot of things for Tavon that we checked out of because we didn’t get the looks that we liked, and we went in different directions."
Gurley had 66 yards on 26 carries, averaging 2.6 yards with a long carry of just 7 yards against the Ravens. He’s the first rookie in NFL history to rush for 125 yards or more in his first four starts, and his 566 yards during that period are the most in the Super Bowl era. But he has totaled 200 yards the last three games.
"This is not Todd’s issue," Fisher said. "This is an offensive issue."
Numerous injuries to a line that began the year as one of the most inexperienced units in the NFL have had a lot to do with the offensive woes. Only left tackle Greg Robinson and center Tim Barnes have started all year, and several rookies have played prominent roles.
Both Fisher and Gurley promised some new wrinkles this week. They’re hopeful quarterback Case Keenum, who sustained a concussion and was not cleared to practice Tuesday, will be running the show.
"It’s a little frustrating, but all we want to do is win," Gurley said. "If we don’t really have too many explosive plays and we win, that’s fine with me."
Austin has been most effective lately for the Rams (4-6) as a decoy on fake end-around sweeps that keep defenses honest.
"They’re concerned about him," Fisher said. "If they’re edge-conscious and they’re aware of him, then something else should open up for us."
Austin hasn’t gotten the ball often because Fisher is concerned about defenses sniffing out the play and throwing him for a big loss. No doubt, the eighth pick of the 2013 draft didn’t help himself by dropping a first-down catch in the closing minutes and losing a fumble on a punt return.
"Bad things happened out there," Austin said. "The defense can’t save us all the time."
Austin was diplomatic about his lack of involvement, saying, "That’s how it goes sometimes. Sometimes you touch the ball, sometimes you don’t. This ain’t no one-man team, either."
The Rams are 31st overall on offense and the passing attack is dead last entering this week’s game at Cincinnati.
"We’ve got injuries, that limits a lot," Austin said. "You’ve just got to go with what you’ve got."
Demetrius Rhaney, a seventh-round draft pick, said he’ll start at left guard this week, and fellow rookie Cody Wichmann, a sixth-rounder, is expected to start at right guard. Second-round pick Todd Havenstein (calf) could return at tackle after missing last week’s game.
Rhaney had been in the mix at center in the preseason but had been used only on special teams before taking his first snaps at right guard after rookie Andrew Donnal (knee) was injured last week. Rhaney had been getting practice snaps mainly at center.
"I kept taking mental reps and waited for my number to be called. I stepped in, filled in and did what I had to do."
Austin is averaging 10 yards on 31 receptions with four touchdowns, and he’s averaging 8.3 yards on 29 carries with two more scores. The last three games he has just 25 yards receiving on seven catches and 100 yards on 12 carries.
- Andrew Donnal
- Case Keenum
- Cody Wichmann
- Demetrius Rhaney
- FOX Sports Midwest
- Greg Robinson
- Los Angeles Rams
- Tavon Austin
- Tim Barnes
- Todd Gurley II