With all of the issues surrounding Tavon Austin, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay seems to be leaning towards having Pharoh Cooper returning punts.
After a frustrating performance against the Seattle Seahawks, the Los Angeles Rams were at least smart enough to remove Tavon Austin from returning punts before the end of last Sunday’s game due to his inability to hang on to the football. In fact, it’s beyond frustrating to see the Rams heading into Week 6 against the Jacksonville Jaguars with Austin already having four fumbles, three of which have been recovered by opponents.
When considering Los Angeles is already overpaying Austin to begin with, there’s no excuse for the former first-round pick to be struggling the way he has this season. Austin’s four-year, $42 million extension was already considered a waste from the start by many, and now that he’s been removed from punt returns at the moment, this deal becomes even more ridiculous for the Rams.
So with Austin officially out, Rams Insider Myles Simmons recently discussed how Sean McVay seems to be leaning towards using Pharoh Cooper has his replacement. And while Cooper Kupp seemed like a possibility since he has some experience in the department, McVay’s decision for Cooper seems like the right choice.
From Simmons’ article:
"“Cooper [Kupp’s] done it already when you really look at it in some of those punt safe situations — very sure handed,” McVay said. “But I think when you look at the role that he has offensively, and then how well Pharoh’s done as a kick returner, feel a lot of confidence in him. And that’s more likely the direction that we’ll go. But both of those guys will continue to get work throughout the week.”"
It should also be noted how Simmons mentions in his article that Cooper ranks second in kick return average at 27.1 yards, which is beyond impressive for the second-year wideout. Plus, when seeing how crowded the receiving corps currently is at the moment, a new role as the go-to guy returning punts may be what’s best for Cooper.
Then again, anything will be better than Austin at this point with his fumbling issues. As for what McVay should expect from Austin moving forward, let’s just hope the Rams coach decides to just use him more in the running game since his ability as a receiver is almost as bad as the punt returns.