Each Tuesday of the NFL season NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Rob Rang will identify his Rookie of the Week. To qualify, the first-year professional player must have played a significant role in a competitive NFL game, demonstrating not just flashes of talent but the potential to emerge as a legitimate long-term standout. The player's draft status -- whether as a former first round pick or undrafted free agent -- does not apply.
Top NFL Rookie of Week 10: St. Louis Rams WR Tavon Austin
It took the first skill position player selected in the 2013 NFL draft two full months to make a significant impact in a victory for his club but once he got on track, there was simply no stopping Tavon Austin.
It isn't difficult to feel a little sorry for the Indianapolis Colts -- the Rams' Week 10 opponent -- as they, like the rest of the NFL had watched the rookie from West Virginia flounder as he struggled to find his niche.
Frankly, Austin still has a ways to go before he's truly making his mark in the NFL as he only caught two passes against the Colts. Even though he had limited opportunities, however, Austin made the Colts pay and the rest of the NFL pay attention as he took each of those passes for scores and returned a punt 98 yards for another in arguably the most shocking upset of the season.
The Rams (4-6), currently in last place in the NFC West were nearly a two touchdown underdog on the road in Indianapolis and were attempting to beat Andrew Luck and the first-place Colts (6-3) with backup Kellen Clemens at the helm. Though St. Louis had played better in recent weeks, there was little reason to suspect they'd be able to hand the Colts, the only team in the NFL to have beaten either the Denver Broncos or the Seattle Seahawks.
Austin's first score -- the punt return -- was his most dramatic play. He initially appeared as if he was going to allow veteran punter Pat McAfee's attempt to bounce into the end zone for a touchback, waving away teammates to leave the ball alone. With Colts' defenders closing, however, Austin instead caught the ball off the bounce, made a few defenders miss and raced untouched up the right sideline for an impressive touchdown to give the Rams 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Austin's elusiveness and straight-line speed were just as apparent on his two touchdown receptions, the first of which came on St. Louis' next possession.
The Colts appeared to be in position to finally stop the bleeding. Instead, Austin gave a quick hesitation move to veteran cornerback Vontae Davis and then exploded by him down the right sideline. Clemens saw his rookie wideout had separated from Davis and hit him with a well thrown ball for the 57-yard score.
As if to prove that his explosiveness hadn't been lost during halftime, Austin scored his third touchdown of the game on the Rams' initial possession of the third quarter. This time he caught a short pass from Clemens on a quick crossing route over the middle and simply blew past the Colts' secondary into the open field for an 81-yard score.
Austin's orientation into the NFL may have taken a little longer than Rams' fans may have hoped. Now that he's running, however, the only thing that may help future opponents slow him down is the fact that the Rams are on bye this week. They return to the field in Week 12, hosting the Chicago Bears.
Rookie of the Week Archives:
Week One: Carolina Panthers DT Star Lotulelei
Week Two: Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins
Week Three: New York Jets QB Geno Smith
Week Four: Buffalo Bills ILB Kiko Alonso
Week Five: Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy
Week Six: Detroit Lions TE Joseph Fauria
Week Seven: Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed
Week Eight: Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington
Week Nine: New England Patriots WR Aaron Dobson