Practice Report: Watkins and Austin Are Good to Go, Joyner Ruled Out

The Rams held their final practice of the week on Friday morning at Cal Lutheran. The team will travel to Texas this afternoon as it gears up for the Week 4 matchup against the Cowboys on Sunday.

INJURY REPORT

Los Angeles released its official injury report after practice on Friday. Safety was officially ruled out for Sunday after suffering a hamstring injury last Thursday against the 49ers.

Though safety Cody Davis subbed in for Joyner in Week 3, he’s listed as questionable in Week 4. According to head coach Sean McVay, Davis “had a little tweak in his quad” and did not participate in Friday’s session. But McVay added the staff feels optimistic about his availability for this weekend.

For the second day in a row, center John Sullivan was limited in his practice participation with a groin injury and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s contest. Should Sullivan be ruled out in Week 4, Austin Blythe would take his place.

In Dallas, the Cowboys currently have seven players listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, including cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Nolan Carroll, linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Sean Lee, defensive tackle Stephen Paea, safety Kavon Frazier, and guard Chaz Green.

Lee, an All-Pro linebacker, will represent one of the biggest losses for the Cowboys should he be officially ruled out come Sunday. Not only is he one of Dallas' six captains, but he is also one of their best defensive players with a combined 25 tackles in three games, including a team-high of eight tackles on Monday night.

WATKINS AND AUSTIN ARE “GOOD TO GO” 

Wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Tavon Austin will be “good to go” for Sunday’s game after being placed in concussion protocol following Thursday night’s contest. After practice on Friday, both detailed going through the protocol and expressed their eagerness to get going again in Week 4.

“It’s definitely a bad experience,” Austin said. “I mean nobody wants to get knocked around, but, it comes with the game. The main thing is that I’m good now and that’s all that matters.”

“I feel pretty good, I had two good days of practice and I remember the plays,” Watkins said with a laugh. “I’m back to my normal self. [But I have] never had a concussion or head injury before. It just felt a little weird and I had never felt that feeling.”

Watkins said he immediately knew something was wrong, after taking a big hit on Thursday night. 

“Once I got up and was walking, then I knew something was wrong,” he said. “I felt like somebody was kind of walking for me, so I knew something is wrong with my head.”

But after being held from practice on Monday and taking limited reps on Thursday, both wideouts stand to play significant roles in Sunday’s game against a tough Dallas’ defense.

“It’s very important,” McVay said of having both back on field. “Those guys are extremely important to our offense. We’ve got a lot of playmakers on our offense that we feel good about, but those two especially. I think you look at what Sammy did last week and then the influence that Tavon has on the game in a variety of different ways. That’s a big boost to us and we feel very fortunate to have those guys ready to go.”

AUSTIN TALKS HIS INVOLVEMENT IN THE OFFENSE

Though Austin has been on field for each of the Rams three games this season, he has not been used quite as much in McVay’s offensive scheme as he was last year. The Rams entered the season perhaps expecting to utilize Austin as a deep threat, but the wideout was limited in training camp as he dealt with a hamstring issue.

Check out photos of the Los Angeles Rams practicing before their game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Through three weeks, Austin has been used primarily as a motion player before the snap to get in position for a potential jet sweep. He has also seen time lining up in the backfield and continues to be the team’s primary punt returner, though he has muffed two punts thus far — both of which were recovered by the opponent.

“I really believe it’s concentrating a little bit more,” Austin said of the muffed punts. “I just have to get my hands and feet up under me and that’s something that is correctable. I went in hard at practice this week, so I’m trying to eliminate the mistakes. But I’ll be alright.” 

McVay and offensive coordinator Matt Lafleur expressed a similar confidence in the fifth-year pro, not only in his abilities as a punt returner, but also in his skillset as a dynamic playmaker on field.

“Tavon is the punt returner [and we have] a lot of confidence in Tavon,” McVay said. “He’s done some great things over the course of his career and we don’t let a couple plays define it and change our whole approach to a dynamic player like him.”

“I think anytime you have an explosive player, the defense is going to notice where he is, especially when you’re handing him the ball whether it’s from the backfield or you’re giving it to him on those jet sweeps,” LaFleur said of Austin’s impact. “The defense definitely has to account for him on each and every play, which in turn opens up some of these other guys in their routes.”

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