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Pharoh Cooper expected to be Rams' punt returner

Pharoh Cooper will take over returning punts from Tavon Austin, who has done the job the last four years. Javier Rojas/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Pharoh Cooper is expected to take over Tavon Austin's role as the Los Angeles Rams' punt returner, coach Sean McVay said after Wednesday's practice. The Rams were going to try out Cooper Kupp as well, but he already plays a big role in the offense and Cooper has been producing as a kickoff returner.

Cooper ranks third in kickoff-return average, at 27.1 yards, but he also fumbled one of his NFL-leading 13 attempts. A fourth-round pick out of South Carolina last year, Cooper returned five punts as a rookie, totaling 5 yards. Austin has been returning the vast majority of punts for the Rams the last four years, averaging 8.9 yards and scoring three touchdowns, one shy of the NFL lead from 2013 to 2016.

But Austin has muffed four punts this season, three of which gave possession to the opposing team. Austin muffed a punt Sunday, was replaced by Kupp, then tried again, muffed another and was ultimately replaced for good.

"I know my situation," Austin said after Wednesday's practice. "I really believe I’m the best punt returner in the league; just gotta get rid of a couple problems I’m dealing with right now. But it’s going to be what it’s going to be. I’d rather come off than hurt this team."