Tavon Austin is wearing something different, beyond his regular uniform, around Rams Park this week: a walking boot. The St. Louis Rams rookie wide receiver hurt his ankle in the second half of a Week 14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He hasn't practiced all week, and is officially listed as questionable for this week's game against the New Orleans Saints.
Joining Austin on the injury report is cornerback Janoris Jenkins. He's dealing with a back injury, and did not practice at all this week.
Jenkins injury could leave the Rams between a rock and a hard place. The secondary has struggled recently with Jenkins in the lineup. Without him, it leaves Trumaine Johnson as the only regular starting player at cornerback. Rodney McLeod and rookie Brandon McGee would round out the trio, with Quinton Pointer in the fourth spot. That's a thin secondary leaning on backups ... against Drew Brees and the Saints.
Austin's absence leaves the Rams lineup without some of its usual explosiveness. He caught one pass on three targets last week and hasn't been a big factor for the offense since posting 138 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts in Week 10.
Where the Rams will really miss Austin is in the return game. He's always a threat to take one all the way, but more importantly, he's been helpful in giving the offense better field position. Benny Cunningham would likely take over on kick returns without Austin, but Austin's handled all but one of the punt returns this year. Austin Pettis is one possibility to replace the rookie in that role.