Rams playmaker Tavon Austin shows he can block
ST. LOUIS (AP) Tavon Austin is becoming more of a regular contributor to the St. Louis Rams offense. Even when he doesn’t have the ball.
Austin played with a sore hamstring last weekend in a 24-6 win over Cleveland. He caught four passes for 43 yards and had one run for 21 yards. The 5-foot-8, 176-pound Austin also threw a couple of big blocks that drew attention.
Austin’s block on Cleveland cornerback Pierre Desir helped spring rookie Todd Gurley on his 48-yard gallop in the third quarter. As Gurley was speeding down the sideline, Desir closed in. Austin threw a shoulder that sent Desir to the turf.
For Austin, the team’s No. 8 overall draft pick from West Virginia in 2013, it’s no big deal.
”I think it’s kind of overblown,” Austin said Friday about blocking ability. ”I mean for the most part, I’ve been blocking since I’ve been here. I’ve been throwing blocks all along. That’s just how I play.”
Austin is doing what coach Jeff Fisher wants to see from his receiving corps — blocking downfield to help the offense.
”I think it’s a message to our receivers that they need to learn how to block like Tavon,” Fisher said. ”Tavon’s a good blocker.”
Offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti agreed. He liked what he saw.
”When you see a perimeter player down the field, laying the wood like Tavon did, I mean, that’s exciting,” Cignetti said. ”That’s football. You have to love it. It creates energy.”
Size doesn’t matter when it comes to blocking, Cignetti said. You have to want to and Austin does.
”Well, one, he gives tremendous effort,” Cignetti said. ”He has tremendous power.”
Other players noticed Austin, too.
”It just goes back to, what you want is team-first guys,” quarterback Nick Foles said. ”He’s a guy who everybody talks about his explosive play-making ability, but he’s a team-first guy and he shows it right there blocking down field.”
Austin also blocked safety Donte Whitner to help Gurley score on a 16-yard run.
”I can block, I can catch and I can run,” Austin said. ”It’s about being in the right spot at the right time.”
The Rams, of course, are more interested in getting the ball in Austin’s hands. He’s a breakaway threat as a receiver and elusive when he takes a pitch to run or receives a punt.
Austin has three touchdown receptions this season and he has rushed for a touchdown. Austin also returned a punt for a 75-yard touchdown in the opener against Seattle.
”We need to get him touches,” Fisher said. ”He’s playing good without the ball. He’s playing very good with the ball. Now, we have to continue to get the ball in his hand.”
Notes: St. Louis will wear throwback jerseys from the 1999 Super Bowl season Sunday at home against San Francisco. … a victory over the 49ers would give the 3-3 Rams a winning record going into November for the first time since 2006.