NFL Nation: Justin Veltung

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams made a seemingly innocuous roster move Saturday afternoon, releasing rookie defensive end Gerald Rivers and promoting receiver Justin Veltung from the practice squad to the active roster.

The move won't make a ripple on the NFL scene as the Rams prepare for Sunday's meeting with New Orleans, but it could well provide a clue into the status of injured rookie receiver Tavon Austin for that game.

Austin sat out practice all week with an ankle injury and observed practice Thursday and Friday with a walking boot on his left foot. He's officially listed as questionable on the injury report.

The Rams have plenty of other receivers on the roster capable of filling in for Austin in that role, but what they don't have is a proven punt returner. Austin Pettis and Janoris Jenkins have done it in the past, but Veltung handled those duties after Austin during the preseason and training camp and showed some ability.

Reading between the lines of the move, the Rams are clearly giving themselves some insurance in case Austin is unable to go. Veltung has spent the season on the Rams practice squad.

Rivers was inactive for all but two games, playing a total of 10 snaps in contests against San Francisco and Jacksonville earlier in the season. He made the roster as an undrafted free agent after flashing pass-rush potential during training camp and the preseason. He is still eligible for the practice squad should he go unclaimed on waivers.

Sunday notes: Rams sign practice squad

September, 1, 2013
As a follow up to cutdown day on Saturday, the Rams filled out their eight-man practice squad with players who were part of the cut to the 53-man roster.

The team announced the first incarnation of the practice squad Sunday afternoon and each of the members spent the preseason and training camp with the team. Here's the list: receivers Emory Blake and Justin Veltung, cornerback Darren Woodard, defensive ends Sammy Brown and Mason Brodine, safety Cody Davis, offensive tackle Sean Hooey and fullback Eric Stevens.

Perhaps notable in his absence is quarterback Austin Davis, who spent the 2012 season as the team's third quarterback and was among the 20 cuts the team made Saturday. He's still eligible for the practice squad but for now is not a part of the organization. Right now, the Rams are carrying two quarterbacks on the roster, Sam Bradford and Kellen Clemens, with none on the practice squad.

Making matters more interesting was the absence of Clemens from Sunday's practice. Coach Jeff Fisher declined to comment on the absence.

"I'm not going to discuss the roster, who is here, who is not," Fisher said. "We'll have an injury report for you during the week in the regular season."

Since the Rams have just five receivers on the active roster, it's no surprise that they opted to bring two back to the practice squad. Hooey was a project the Rams seemed to like early in camp but was sidetracked by injury. Brodine appeared to narrowly miss a spot on the active roster, losing a close battle to Gerald Rivers for a likely ninth spot among defensive linemen.

Woodard made a late surge but fell short of winning the fifth cornerback job and Davis did the same at safety. Stevens was the lone true fullback on the roster in preseason and can at least give scout team looks at that position for the weeks when Rams play some of the teams that still carry someone at the position.

Brown spent a big chunk of 2012 with the practice squad and then the active roster the final five games.

More notes:

Safety Matt Daniels had his right arm in a sling and was dressed in street clothes for the short portion of practice open to the media. Tight end Cory Harkey (leg) was on crutches and also not available for practice.

As the Rams go into regular-season mode, it's unlikely any updates will be available until the injury report comes out Wednesday for Sunday's game against Arizona.

The Rams are not scheduled to have practice again until Wednesday.




Thursday, 9/18
Sunday, 9/21
Monday, 9/22