Rams' Tavon Austin: Envisioned as downfield threat under new offensive coordinator

Rams offensive coordinator Matt LeFleur intends to take advantage of Austin's (wrist) speed by using him as a downfield threat in 2017, Myles Simmons of the team's official site reports. "When you look at what Washington was able to do and what Atlanta was able to do and the explosive plays, it all starts with having speed at that receiver position, which is something he possesses," McVay explained. "I know last year in Atlanta, they used Taylor Gabriel [downfield] and he's not the tallest guy, but he could get open and he was electric with the ball in his hands. So hopefully we can get Tavon going the same way."

Austin was primarily used as a gadget player under the Rams' previous regime, as evidenced by his 116 carries the past two seasons not to mention the 75 receptions he caught from behind the line of scrimmage. McVay, however, hails from a system in Washington that rarely relied upon gimmick plays. Rather, he called plays that allowed the diminutive DeSean Jackson to flourish as one of the league's premier field-stretching wideouts. Austin (5-8, 176) profiles similarly to Jackson (5-10, 175) and certainly makes sense to be utilized in a similar fashion. While such a role would almost guarantee fewer carries -- and potentially fewer total touches -- for Austin in 2017, the former first-round receiver would likely have a great shot to set a career high in receiving yardage. It's worth noting that in the two years under McVay in which Jackson played at least 15 games, Jackson averaged 56 receptions for 1,087 yards and five touchdowns.

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