ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams made a seemingly innocuous roster move Saturday afternoon, releasing rookie defensive end Gerald Rivers and promoting receiver Justin Veltung from the practice squad to the active roster.
The move won't make a ripple on the NFL scene as the Rams prepare for Sunday's meeting with New Orleans, but it could well provide a clue into the status of injured rookie receiver Tavon Austin for that game.
Austin sat out practice all week with an ankle injury and observed practice Thursday and Friday with a walking boot on his left foot. He's officially listed as questionable on the injury report.
The Rams have plenty of other receivers on the roster capable of filling in for Austin in that role, but what they don't have is a proven punt returner. Austin Pettis and Janoris Jenkins have done it in the past, but Veltung handled those duties after Austin during the preseason and training camp and showed some ability.
Reading between the lines of the move, the Rams are clearly giving themselves some insurance in case Austin is unable to go. Veltung has spent the season on the Rams practice squad.
Rivers was inactive for all but two games, playing a total of 10 snaps in contests against San Francisco and Jacksonville earlier in the season. He made the roster as an undrafted free agent after flashing pass-rush potential during training camp and the preseason. He is still eligible for the practice squad should he go unclaimed on waivers.