EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Perhaps it took a little longer than expected but Rams rookie punt returner Tavon Austin added his first piece of NFL hardware Wednesday when it was announced that he had been named NFC special teams player of the week.
The award comes as no surprise after Austin's scintillating (and risky) 98-yard punt return for a touchdown on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. By now, you probably know all there is to know about a return that had coach Jeff Fisher telling Austin to get away from the ball before yelling for him to run faster moments later.
Lost in the mix of that return, though, was Austin's solid work on a few other punt returns. He had a near hiccup when he dropped one and recovered it but otherwise had returns of 29 and 18 yards. He finished the day with 145 yards on four punt returns, an average of 36.25 yards per chance and added a kick return for 27 yards.
Austin's big day sent a message to the league that he's going to be a guy they have to game plan for on special teams and offense. I'd expect to see more teams kicking away from Austin or kicking shorter punts with longer hang times as Indianapolis did to try to limit his returns. That might make earning more of these awards difficult for Austin but it's probably a safe bet to assume that this certainly won't be the last.