The Rams signed wide receiver Tavon Austin to a four-year extension worth $42 million before the start of the 2016 season because they believed he’s a versatile player who can help the team on both offense and special teams.
He’s dropping part of that portfolio after another rough day returning punts. Austin muffed two punts against the Seahawks in last Sunday’s 16-10 loss, including one that Seattle recovered in scoring position. They weren’t able to turn that into points, but Austin has muffed other kicks this year and the latest round of struggles was enough for the Rams to make a change.
“We’re going to give Tavon a break from that,” coach Sean McVay said, via the Los Angeles Times.
Austin scored three touchdowns on punt returns in his first three seasons, but hasn’t reached the end zone that way since the start of last season. His only score so far this season came on a 27-yard run against Seattle and running the ball has been his primary role this year as the Rams have handed him the ball 20 times against five receptions.
That’s a big drop from last year’s 58 catches and another sign that Austin’s role is different than the previous Rams coaching staff seemed to envision for the 2013 first-round pick.