EARTH CITY, Mo. -- To this point in his still young career, St. Louis Rams receiver Tavon Austin has fallen well short of meeting the expectations that came when the team traded up to No. 8 overall to draft him in 2013.
Depending on who you ask, you'll probably get a wide variety of reasons for Austin's struggles in his first two seasons. But there's no denying that 2015 represents a bit of a crossroads for Austin.
SI.com's Don Banks stopped by Rams Park earlier this week to catch up with Austin and get to the heart of how important this season is for Austin. Rams coach Jeff Fisher certainly has no doubts that Austin is poised for a breakthrough, telling Banks that Austin's "production level should increase."
Fisher pointed to a lack of steady quarterback play and even went so far as to say having a quarterback as tall as Nick Foles (6-foot-5), will help Austin get going. Fisher also essentially absolved Austin of blame for his lackluster first two seasons.
There's some merit to what Fisher says, at least in terms of the inconsistent quarterback play. Others have pointed to a lack of creativity from former coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. But Austin himself has said in the past that he struggled to learn the playbook and adjust to running NFL-caliber routes. Those are things firmly in Austin's control. And Frank Cignetti Jr. is the new offensive coordinator.
After the season, the Rams will have to make a decision on whether to pick up Austin's fifth-year option for 2017 (yes, that decision is made after the third season). No matter how you slice it, this is a big year for Austin and the ability of the Rams offense to offer a much-needed explosive element will depend greatly on if he can finally fulfill the promise he brought with him in 2013.
A roundup of Wednesday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we examined potential temporary venues for a team moving to Los Angeles in 2016. ... Running back Todd Gurley offered an up close look at a day at practice from his point of view. ... The Rams aren't in a rush to bring Gurley back even though he's participating in individual drills. ... Fisher said receiver Brian Quick is likely to play in preseason games. ... The Rams also aren't in a hurry to make a decision on a starting center. ... Defensive tackle Nick Fairley is focused on doing the most he can in the short term.
Here's Wednesday's look around all 32 NFL training camps.
The Insider group provides its look at wide receiver tiers for your draft.
At stltoday.com, Jim Thomas leads a walk down memory lane with the best and worst training camp moments in St. Louis Rams history.