Morning Ram-blings: Austin's big plays

ST. LOUIS -- It's not often you find a play in the NFL where the design actually requires the ball carrier to stop his progress and change direction. Given the speed and athleticism of NFL defenses, such a play would seem to be an invitation to a substantial loss.

Of course, for as fast and athletic as defenses are in the league, there aren't many who possess that combination to the excess of Rams rookie dynamo Tavon Austin. So when Austin stopped midway through a reverse and changed direction without much of a stop on his way to a 65-yard touchdown run, it was clear the Rams can do things with Austin that not many teams or players can do.

"He’s just a tremendous athlete," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "His stop and start ability is impressive and we have had that in for awhile and we pushed it up on the calling list. It was a good play for us."

In the past two games, just about any play called for Austin is a good one. Including the Rams' win against Indianapolis, Austin has scored four touchdowns in the past two games with the shortest distance traveled a 57-yard catch against the Colts. That performance has placed Austin in some esteemed company.

Austin became the fourth player since 1960 with a 60-plus yard rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown and punt return touchdown in the same season, joining Gale Sayers, Billy Johnston and DeSean Jackson.

More impressive, Austin joined Sayers and Jim Brown as the only players in NFL history to score four touchdowns of at least 50 yards in a two-game span in a season.

Eleven games into his rookie season, Austin said things are starting to develop more easily which is leading to more success.

"(Things are) definitely slowing down," Austin said. "I’ve been put in great situations so far and I’m glad I took advantage of them and I hope they keep coming. Hopefully I’ll keep taking advantage of them."

Against Chicago and Indianapolis, Austin touched the ball a total of 13 times for 443 yards and four touchdowns including receptions, rushes and punt and kick returns. For those keeping score at home, that's an average of 34.07 yards per touch.

Austin's recent work goes to show that the quantity of his touches isn't as important as the quality. Which is to say that creatively designed plays, especially ones that allow him to operate in space, can regularly allow him to maximize those chances with game-changing touchdowns.


A roundup of Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com on Tuesday. ... The day began with Ram-blings and we followed that up with the weekly Redskins watch, where we detailed how the Rams stand to gain from Washington's continued struggles. ... From there, it was Power Rankings time, as the Rams moved up a couple notches to No. 19 this week. ... We closed the day with our weekly film study sessions from the Bears game, one for defense and one for offense.


The NFL Countdown guys got an early jump on this week's predictions, offering their takes on Sunday's Rams-Niners game.

It appears the Rams will have to deal with a returning Michael Crabtree this weekend.

At stltoday.com, Jim Thomas goes in depth on the Michael Brockers tackle that was called roughing the passer.

Thomas also offered an update on the three concussed Rams working their way back.

At 101sports.com, the home of 101 ESPN radio in St. Louis, Randy Karraker provided his 10 takeaways from the Rams' victory.

Anthony Stalter offered some of his thoughts in that same corner of cyberspace.

101sports also provided video of Fisher's weekly radio show. See lower right corner.