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Jeff Fisher: Rams 'haven't shown' plans for Tavon Austin yet

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Tavon Austin was the crown jewel of the Rams 2013 NFL Draft class. But thus far what he's done in the preseason has been a pretty big disappointment. That, however, is actually planned by the Rams.

Jeff Fisher joined Jim Rome on CBS Sports Network's ROME Monday night and said that the team hasn't "shown" what they plan to do with Austin yet primarily because it's the preseason.

"We have a pretty good idea [how we'll use him] but we haven't shown it," Fisher said. "He's not had a lot of production, per se, in the preseason only because it makes sense to hold those type of things for the regular season."

Fisher's right and this backs up a notion that's been prevailing around the NFL: the Rams are squatting on Austin purposely because they don't want to give opposing defenses an opportunity to gameplan around the wideout with preseason film.

Austin is the quintessential "space" player and a perfect fit for today's NFL which values creativity in the passing game and playmakers who can do explosive things when they get the ball in their hands. There's a very good reason why the Rams made a big move up to grab Austin.

Part of it was that they want to see how Sam Bradford can improve with actual receiving weapons around him. And Fisher told Rome that he expects the former Rookie of the Year to make a leap due to the consistency in St. Louis' system and the additions on offense.

"The quarterbacks are going to be as good as the people you surround them with. In Sam's case this is the first year, early in his career, where he's in the same offensive system two years in a row," Fisher said. "Last year was his third system. He takes off, he comes back in the offseason program, there's familiarity ... he's much more ahead right now. We feel like we surrounded him with better people."

You'd be crazy to think the Rams, with all their additions and Bradford possibly taking a step, aren't a playoff sleeper this year.

They were 4-1-1 against the NFC West last year and they added some impressive pieces in free agency (Jake Long, Jared Cook) and the draft (Austin, Alec Ogletree for starters) this offseason.

Fisher admitted Monday that his team is young and that offers the potential for a stumble or 10 this season. But with the talent they've built up through free agency and the draft, their potential is scary. It's even scarier when you imagine we haven't seen anything from Austin yet.

 
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