By Cedric Williams
One of the few positive plays that went in favor of the St. Louis Rams during Sunday’s 30-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals came in the final minute of the third quarter, when rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin broke loose for a sensational 56-yard run on an end around reverse, which helped set up St. Louis’ lone touchdown of the day.
But Austin’s brilliant burst through the heart of Arizona’s defense proved to be a bittersweet moment, as Cardinal linebacker Karlos Dansby rolled over the St. Louis rookie’s left ankle while making the tackle, which created an injury that forced him from the game.
Austin didn’t return and is questionable to play this Sunday when the Rams host the 10-3 New Orleans Saints at the Edward Jones Dome.
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, an old school leader who believes in revealing as little as possible about injuries, said very little about it during his Monday press conference in the main auditorium at the Rams Park training facility in Earth City.
“We did our tests and he’ll be day-to-day this week,” is all Fisher would say.
Austin laid sprawled out on the field for several minutes after the play, and reacted initially like he thought he’d suffered a severe injury.
After spending a few moments with the Rams team trainers though, the 22-year old from Baltimore was able to walk off the field on his own.
Fisher gave no indication as to whether Austin would be able to practice on Wednesday, but that is when the team’s official injury report will be released, and it’s almost a certainty that Austin will be among the names listed.
Dahl Returns, Barksdale Sits As Rams Play Lineup Shuffle On Offensive Line
Veteran right guard Harvey Dahl missed four games with a knee injury, but was able to make his return to the starting lineup Sunday in Arizona.
Former left tackle turned right tackle Rodger Saffold started in Dahl’s place for three of the those games, with veteran backup Joe Barksdale manning Saffold’s spot at right tackle. In fact, Barksdale started 12 games this season for the Rams, but was the surprising choice to go to the bench to make room for Dahl’s return.
Dahl was in his usual spot at right guard and Saffold moved back over to right tackle at the outset of Sunday’s contest.
“Generally speaking, we’re not going to demote a guy because of injury,” Fisher said. “We wanted to get Harvey an opportunity to play. He worked hard to come back.”
All three wound up playing, as the Rams front five struggled to control Arizona’s front seven. Dahl played most of the first half, but came out when St. Louis went to its two-minute offense just before halftime, then went back in in the second half. The seventh-year pro out of Nevada-Reno was back in when Austin made his big run and helped make the key block on running back Zac Stacy’s two-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Saffold rotated between right tackle and right guard and played nearly every snap. Barksdale played the last half of the fourth quarter, with Dahl on the sideline.
“It looked like it was his first week back,” Fisher said. “He didn’t play all the snaps. He did OK. I expect him to be better this week, but he played hard like he does. He was down field, was correct in everything that he did.”
For more Rams news and updates, visit Rams Central.
Cedric Williams, a lifelong St. Louisan and proud UMSL alum, has been a freelance reporter/photographer covering St. Louis area sports for nearly two decades. Most recently, he has been working as a credentialed beat writer covering the Rams and small-school college sports for Examiner.com and other outlets from around the area. Please share any comments, questions, or feedback with Cedric at email@example.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.