LAKE FOREST — Rams rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin hasn’t exploded onto the scene like some expected, but his last outing caught everyone’s attention, including the Bears.
He had two catches in the 38-8 win over the Colts — a 57-yard touchdown catch and an 81-yard score. He also returned a punt 98 yards for a touchdown.
“I think week in and week out, defensive backs don’t go up against smaller stature receivers that can really run. [Austin] can get in and out of breaks,” said Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. “We say all the time he’s a better young man than he is a football player, and he’s a real good football player. We’re happy to have him.”
The Bears need to limit giving up big plays, and containing Austin is part of that.
“Just flat-out explosion,” special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said Wednesday about Austin. “He’s picking it up. He’s got confidence going right now. … He’s explosive. It’s going to be a real test for us.”
DeCamillis and Marc Trestman both pointed out that the Bears have someone they can use to practice for Austin in Devin Hester, another difference-making special teamer, but Austin can beat you in two phases.
“Our emphasis today was certainly on covering, how to kick to him. Just flip it over and imagine it was Devin,” Trestman said. “Those are the things we are going through in our preparation for Tavon. … Certainly field position will be a big factor in how we kick to him and making sure he’s not a difference-maker in the game.”
Big back: The Bears’ run defense gets bruising rookie back Zac Stacy this week. A 5-8, 224-pounder, Stacy emerged as the Rams’ top back, rushing for 134 yards against Seattle and 127 against Tennessee. “What they’ve been able to do in the run game — coming downhill, getting some big lanes, having some big gains lately, and that’s why they’ve been successful in there,” said Corey Wootton.
Injured Frey: Nickel corner Isaiah Frey missed practice Wednesday with a fracture in his hand. Marc Trestman is optimistic, though, that Frey will be fine to play with a cast on the injury Sunday. As far as an extra corner, Hester was seen with the defensive backs during the portion of practice open to the media, something both Trestman and Mel Tucker downplayed. “We try to keep Devin as busy as we can throughout the course of practice,” Trestman said with a laugh. “But you never know. You never know.”
Shea returns: Defensive end Shea McClellin was a full participant in practice after missing the past two weeks with a hamstring injury. Long snapper Patrick Mannelly also returned in full and is expected back on Sunday.