2013 DRAFT GUIDE
Rams rookie receiver Austin returns to practice

    2013-12-27 14:56

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Receiver and kick returner Tavon Austin returned to the St. Louis Rams' practice Friday, and coach Jeff Fisher was encouraged with the rookie's progress.

Austin has not practiced since he injured his ankle Dec. 8 in the Rams' 30-10 loss to the Cardinals at Arizona. He missed the Rams' last two games, against New Orleans and Tampa Bay.

Fisher said Austin, selected eighth overall in the last draft, would be listed as ''questionable'' on the injury report for Sunday, when the Rams close out the regular season at Seattle against the Seahawks.

''Tavon was limited in practice today,'' Fisher said. ''We'll see how he is on game day. We're encouraged, however. He's encouraged.''

The electric rookie has shown big-play potential this season. He was injured after a 56-yard run on a reverse late in the third quarter that set up St. Louis' lone touchdown at Arizona.

Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby made the tackle on the play.

''He landed on my ankle and my foot was going the wrong way,'' Austin said.

Having to sit out has been something new for him. Austin did not miss a practice or a game at West Virginia because of an injury.

Austin said it's been frustrating to sit out and watch his teammates play two games. However, he does not want to rush back if he's not totally ready.

''It's tricky,'' Austin said. ''We'll see how it goes. It's been hard. This is my first time missing games. It's kind of hard but I'm getting through it. It's a little bit of adversity. I hope I bounce back.

''It's a little frustrating but at the same time, you have to be smart,'' Austin added. ''That's how the game goes. I hope I can bounce back one of these days.''

Austin has 40 receptions this season. He has scored six touchdowns - four receiving, one rushing and one on a punt return. His rushing touchdown came on a 65-yard run after he took a pitch from quarterback Kellen Clemens, pivoted to reverse his field and ran in untouched.

That made Austin the first player in NFL history with a 95-yard punt return, an 80-yard touchdown catch and a 65-yard rushing score in the same season.

He has been recognized for his efforts this season. Austin has been named a NFC special teams player of the week, and NFL rookie of the week. He also was named the NFC special teams player of the month for November.

In the indoors practice at Rams Park, Austin traded numbers and wore Isaiah Pead's 24.

''Me and him wanted to have a little bit of fun today so we switched jerseys,'' Austin said. ''That's all it was.''

While he would like to play in the last game of the season, the 5-foot-8, 174-pound Austin acknowledged the decision is not his.

''I'm just taking it day by day and you know, pretty much if coach Fisher lets me play Sunday, I hope I'll be ready,'' Austin said. ''Whatever he says. If he lets me play, I hope I can come up with some plays. If not, I'll come back stronger next year.''

NOTES: Rookie safety T.J. McDonald (illness) did not practice for the second day. ... many players switched numbers on the last practice of the year. ... The Rams (7-8) have not won in Seattle since a 27-20 victory in a 2004 NFC wild-card contest. ... St. Louis is allowing just 68 yards rushing per game over its last six contests. The Rams are 4-2 in those games. ... St. Louis is trying to avoid its seventh straight losing season.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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