The St. Louis Rams now have an open competition for the kick returner job. Jeff Fisher opened the race, publicly, on Monday afternoon when asked about the various roles Tavon Austin will play this season.
"I'm not convinced I'm going to use him on kickoffs," Fisher said of his first-round pick. "We're still auditioning for that position."
Three different players got a shot at returning kicks on Saturday against the Packers. Isaiah Pead started the night returning kicks. He took two back for a total of 36 yards, a 23-yarder and a 13-yarder. Raymond Radway returned one for 32 yards, and Mike McNeill had one for five yards.
For Pead, grabbing that role would help secure a roster spot. He had a better outing this week, but it wouldn't hurt his case if he could branch out a little.
No word if the contest is going to include other entrants. Undrafted hero of scrappy Andrew Helmick has the speed, and he had some success in that role at Lindenwood.
The Rams haven't tipped their hand too much about Austin in the preseason. It's clear that he figures heavily into the offensive game plan. Fisher didn't explain his feelings about Austin as a kick returner. Limiting his exposure isn't the worst idea.
Fisher made it clear that Austin was still going to return punts.
Austin was absent from practice on Monday for personal reasons.