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Rams Notebook: Austin Wins NFL Award
Rams notebook: Austin wins NFL award
November 28, 2013 4:40 am • By Joe Lyons firstname.lastname@example.org 636-493-9675
Rams rookie wide receiver/returner Tavon Austin was named NFL Special Teams Player of the Month for November by the NFL on Wednesday.
Austin, selected by the Rams with the eighth overall pick in last April’s draft, scored four highlight-reel touchdowns in the month — on a 98-yard punt return, on pass receptions covering 81 and 57 yards and on a 64-yard run.
He averaged 75.3 yards per touchdown, the highest total from rookie in one calendar month in NFL history.
The NFL’s November awards also include Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (Gateway Tech/Missouri), honored as the Defensive Rookie of the Month. In November, the 6-foot-3, 294-pound Richardson had 22 tackles, including four for loss, and one-half sack. The Jets selected Richardson with the 13th overall pick in April.
Rookie running back Benny Cunningham, who came off the bench to rush 13 times for 109 yards and a touchdown in relief of injured Zac Stacy Sunday in the Rams’ 42-21 rout of the Chicago Bears, is in the running for a pair of weekly honors.
He is up against the Patriots’ Tom Brady, the Titans’ Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, the Jaguars’ Maurice Jones-Drew and the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson as nominees for NFL Player of the Week for Week 12. Fans can vote until 2 p.m. Friday at NFL.com - FedEx Players Air and Ground.
Cunningham, who had 61 yards on six carries on the Sunday drive that sealed the victory over the Bears, is also nominated for Rookie of the Week along with the Chargers’ Keenan Allen, the Buccaneers’ Mike Glennon, the Titans’ Justin Hunter and the Packers’ Eddie Lacy.
Again, fans voting will run through 2 p.m. Friday at wwwNFL.com/Rookies.
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said the team’s three starters dealing with concussion-like symptoms — running back Zac Stacy, left guard Chris Williams and cornerback Trumaine Johnson — are progressing.
“All three of them are doing well,’’ the coach said. “They’re all going through the process right now and they’re all doing well.’’
And do you expect them to play Sunday against the *****?
Fisher’s reply: “They’re all doing well right now.’’
The trio sat out practice Wednesday, as did rookie and starting safety T.J. McDonald (shin) and linebacker Will Witherspoon (personal). Defensive end Eugene Sims (foot) went through a limited workout Wednesday at Rams Park.
Fourth-year pro Shelley Smith stepped in and filled the void when Williams went down late in the second quarter Sunday.
Smith, who started six games after being claimed off waivers from Houston a year ago, got the start at right guard on Nov. 3 against Tennessee and filled in as a reserve tight end/fullback when the Rams played Nov. 10 at Indianapolis.
Sunday, Smith took part in 33 snaps on offense and another five on special teams.
“That’s my job right now, to be the swing guy who’s ready to fill in wherever I’m needed,’’ Smith said. “That’s the nature of the business, I guess. Coaches prepare us well for those situations, so you just have to be ready to go in case something like an injury or whatever happens.’’
With Williams’ status unclear, Smith will prepare through the week as if he’ll be this Sunday’s starter.
“Hopefully, (Williams will) be back healthy for the game, but if he’s not, I have to be ready,’’ Smith said.
PRACTICE SQUAD SPOT FILLED
With second-year defensive back Quinton Pointer promoted late last week, the Rams filled his spot on practice squad by signing tight end/H-back Brad Smelley, a second-year pro from the University of Alabama.
Smelley was selected in the seventh round of the 2012 draft by the Cleveland Browns and spent much of last season on the Browns’ practice squad. He was activated late last season, played in two games and picked up the first reception of the year, a 3-yarder, on Dec. 23 against the Broncos in a 34-12 loss in Denver.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Smelley was cut just before the start of this season.
“Glad to be here and ready to get to work,’’ the 24-year-old said after signing Wednesday morning.
“I went back in Tuscaloosa — that’s where I’m from — and working out and waiting for an opportunity. Obviously, I would’ve liked it to come sooner, but any opportunity is a good opportunity. I’m anxious to help out and show the Rams what I can do.
“I’m pretty flexible. I can do stuff on the line of scrimmage or in the backfield as a fullback. I’ll do whatever I can to try and help the team.’’
As a senior with the national champion Crimson Tide, Smelley started 10 games and finished with 34 catches for 356 yards and four touchdowns.
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was seen at Rams Park on crutches Wednesday afternoon. He had knee surgery last week in Pensacola, Fla.
Re: Rams Notebook: Austin Wins NFL Award
...wait, it wasn't the Most Likely To Be Traded Award?
Re: Rams Notebook: Austin Wins NFL Award
Here's hoping for more awards to come for this youngster during his career with the Rams!
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