Despite all his achievements and accolades at West Virginia, wide receiver Tavon Austin didn’t realize how many friends he had until he was chosen eighth overall in the NFL by the Rams two weeks ago. “Everybody expects a lot of things from you as far as money,” Austin said. “Everybody wants to be around you. My phone doesn’t stop ringing now. It feels like they’re counting my bank account now. So that’s probably the hardest thing for right now — just people.” People who are coming out of the woodwork, long lost relatives, “cousins” he never knew he had. “Oh, I’ve got a lot of cousins now,” Austin said. “The whole (city of) Baltimore is my cousin now. We’re just gonna try to keep focused and let my mother and all them handle it.” Austin, who is from Baltimore, already has changed his phone number. “So hopefully, it doesn’t get out again or I’m going to change it again,” he said. Welcome to that fishbowl otherwise known as the National Football League. With that in mind, Rams Park provided a safe harbor this weekend at rookie minicamp, with long days of meetings, installation periods, weight training, practice and more meetings. After all the pre-draft hype and buildup, it’s a safe bet that no one assembled at Rams Park was happier to get back to football and back on the field than Austin. “It means a lot,” he said after Saturday’s practice. Now, the adjustment process begins. On Friday and Saturday, Austin and the rest of the offensive players got about a dozen plays each day to learn. The verbiage in each play call is much lengthier than Austin had at West Virginia. And here, he’s getting the call in the huddle instead of looking at signals on the line of scrimmage as was the case with the Mountaineers. “You’ve just got to stay in your playbook and when you get out here, don’t worry about messing up,” Austin said. Helping him out is a familiar face. Fellow wide receiver and former Moutaineers teammate Stedman Bailey now is a Rams teammate. They have been roommates this weekend and spent Friday night studying the playbook in their hotel room. The studying apparently paid off because Austin said he had fewer mental errors Saturday than he did Friday. “I cut ’em down to a minimum,” Austin said. “I made a couple plays today, so I think the day went well.” Actually, he made more than a couple. Like a lot of skill position players, as well as the defensive backs, Austin had trouble with his footing on more than one occasion on a wet, slippery field Friday. But it was sunny and dry Saturday, and Austin showcased his speed and quickness during one-on-one and seven-on-seven passing drills.
Austin relishes St. Louis escape
St. Louis Post-Dispatch | May 12