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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Rams' Austin Ready To Stake Claim To Return Job

    Rams' Austin ready to stake claim to return job

    12 hours ago • By Jim Thomas • > 314-340-8197

    Growing up, Tavon Austin’s favorite pickup game was something called “throw up tackle.’’

    “It’s everybody for themselves,” Austin explained. “Whoever gets the ball, you run against everybody, and if you get tackled throw it up and next person tries.”

    Quickness, elusiveness, determination, instincts and instant reaction all were necessary to succeed. Which may explain why Austin loves returning punts so much. It reminds him of ‘‘throw up tackle.”

    It’s not like the Rams are sending a news release to the 31 other NFL teams telling them Austin will return punts this season. But it’s no secret, either. His skill-set makes him perfectly suited for the job.

    “Oh yeah, definitely,” Austin said Sunday after the Rams’ special teams practice. “There’s a lot of guys out there like me — DeSean Jackson and Percy Harvin. You can pretty much see what they did in the league. So if I just trust and believe in (my skills), and have a good scheme, I think things will go well.”

    Through the spring and now four days into training camp, Austin has been everything that the Rams thought he’d be. And that goes for special teams, too.

    “Great ball skills, (is) dynamite with his feet,” special teams coordinator John Fassel said. “And a little guy, hard to tackle.”

    When it comes specifically to punt returns, there’s no way you can coach what Austin has — and almost no way you can coach against it.

    “If we had to punt to him — he’s on another team — what’s your concern?” Fassel asked. “And there’s a lot. ... He’s got breakaway speed, but he’s also got the ability that little guys have which is incredible quickness and elusiveness.”

    The Rams spent part of Sunday’s 70-minute practice on punt returns. But for the most part, all the returners did were ball-catching drills. There was no work Sunday on kickoff returns, which Austin might also end up doing, although he prefers returning punts to kickoffs.

    Plenty of other Rams got some work fielding punts Sunday, a list that included Nick Johnson, Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy, Shane Reynolds and Andre Martin. Make no mistake, Austin doesn’t mind doing it all: Catching passes, running out of the backfield and returning punts and kickoffs.

    “Because that’s what I did my whole life,” he said.

    But the extent of his overall workload in the NFL remains to be seen, and could depend on his level of activity at wide receiver. If he’s an every-down receiver, or close to it, he might not be used as extensively on returns.

    “I think that’s to be determined,” Fassel said. “We’ve still got a ways to go before (deciding) that, but that definitely is a factor. What’s his load on offense? And then is it too much to do both punts and kickoffs? The thing with kickoffs nowadays is half the time they’re touchbacks. So the reps are less than they used to be as far as a returner.”

    The exhibition games will go a long way toward determining the backup return spots behind Austin, and perhaps even if Austin is a full-time punt and kickoff returner.

    Practices only take you so far in such evaluations because without full-fledged tackling, it’s tough to replicate what happens with return men.

    It’s easier to gauge whether a guy can cover a kick, or block on a return on the practice field. And the Rams spent a good chunk of Sunday morning doing just that in a session that was closed to the public.

    “We’ve got to put together a core group of special teams players and this is part of that process,” coach Jeff Fisher said.

    In fact, some of the young backup and fringe players don’t realize how important such practices are to earning an NFL job.

    Linebacker Daren Bates, an undrafted rookie from Auburn, apparently gets it. Before taking the practice field Sunday morning, he tweeted: “Time to go get a job today.”

    Bates approached the practice accordingly. In a one-on-one drill in which players ran 50 yards down field — one trying to block and one trying to cover a punt — Bates and one of the teams’ top special teamers, linebacker Josh Hull, went at each other with a lot of intensity, clutching, grabbing, and trash-talking. It escalated into the first scuffle of training camp, with some pushing and shoving before Fassel jumped in to break it up.

    “I love it,” Fassel said. “To be a special-teams guy, you’ve got to be a little wild and crazy. You can’t be gentle and passive. So I’ve gotta just make sure we’re not fighting and not playing ‘penalty’ football. But you’ve got to have a little fight as a ‘teams’ guy, and this is the chance for them to show it.”

  2. #2
    citr92's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Austin Ready To Stake Claim To Return Job

    i played "throw up tackle" with friends when i was younger quite a bit..

    though we called it something different...

    interesting post for my 1,000th...woo hoo?
    Last edited by Nick; -07-29-2013 at 03:59 PM. Reason: Regardless of whether or not the use of the word was meant to be a slur, it's not appropriate here.

  3. #3
    thoey's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Austin Ready To Stake Claim To Return Job

    Yeah, we played that game too, and yeah, the name is not appropriate now. Times change...

    This space for rent...

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    Re: Rams' Austin Ready To Stake Claim To Return Job

    used to call it "murder ball" in Scotland and we used it as a prelude to rugby

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams' Austin Ready To Stake Claim To Return Job

    When I was young in the 60's we called it Rainbow... I will never forget my best buddy broke his leg on a sprinkler head lawns were tough back then! You know us Californians so many fantastic colors... lol

  6. #6
    Stone Cold Tavon Austin's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Austin Ready To Stake Claim To Return Job

    August 8th......that is all I can think of......Just to see Austin on the field and the rest of the Rams makes me all giddy inside hahaha. When it comes to Special teams though, If you feel like "The Rattle Snake" is going to be a force to recon with, give me a HELL YEAH..........And that's the bottom line cause Stone Cold Says so.

  7. #7
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    Re: Rams' Austin Ready To Stake Claim To Return Job

    We called that "Every man for himself".

    Hopefully the return team can limit the number of penalties so as to take better advantage of Tavon's return skills.

    Not much more deflating than to have a great play negated.

    GO RAMS!!

  8. #8
    Fastcat is offline Registered User
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    We called it kill a man (killa man)

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