The new-look Rams receiving corps is still waiting to get a meaningful contribution from one of the key players from the Jeff Fisher era.
Coach Sean McVay told reporters on Sunday that Tavon Austin is expected to miss “at least another week” with a hamstring injury. Don’t be surprised, as one source recently suggested to PFT, is Austin misses a few more weeks of practice and preseason game action.
“We’re really trying to figure out exactly when that is that he’ll be back,” McVay said. “I think ideally, you’d like to say he’ll get some preseason work, but you also want to be mindful of, if you’re ever pressing it to the point where he might reaggravate it and then it puts him back another six weeks. . . . The hamstrings are always very difficult injuries for those skill [position] players to evaluate, because the grade-one the grade-two, the difference ends up being a couple of weeks. So, ideally I’d like to say Tavon will get a chance to play in the preseason, but the goal and the main thing that we have in mind is making sure he’s ready for that Colts game.”
Compounding the challenge for the Rams is the fact that Austin missed all of the offseason program following wrist surgery.
“It’s a big challenge,” McVay said. “The one thing that I’ve been pleased with Tavon is whether it’s the wrist or the hamstring, he hasn’t really allowed it to effect his demeanor and the way that he goes about every single day. Is this something that we want to deal with in an ideal world? No, absolutely not. But you’ve got to make the most of this situation. He’s doing what he can control in terms of the mental approach and the rehab. It does make it a little bit more difficult, because you certainly have plans for a player like him and he’s still a part of our plans, but to be able to see those things come to fruition on the practice field has been a little bit more difficult for us to envision just based on him not being available. But, like anything else, as coaches, you’ve got to always have contingency plans in place. This isn’t something where we know he’s going to be out for an extended period of time, so while you’d like to have Tavon available when he is he’s certainly a part of what we want to do and an important part of our offense.”
When Austin is heathy, the Rams will have a promising complement of receivers, given the addition of Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp. As PFT reported in the wake of the Watkins trade, the Rams do not plan to trade Austin.
That said, his contract is conducive to a trade, given his $3 million salary for 2017. That number is low, however, because the Rams already have paid him an $11 million roster bonus for the coming year.
For now, though, Austin can’t help the Rams or anyone else. The most important objective for the top-10 pick from 2013 is to get the hamstring healed, so that it won’t become a nagging injury throughout the season.