The Los Angeles Rams have had some difficulty taking care of the ball throughout the 2017 NFL season. Their carelessness with the ball was even more evident in their Week 5 loss versus the Seattle Seahawks.
Despite being one of the most electrifying weapons on the team, Los Angeles announced they would be giving wide receiver Tavon Austin a break from returning punts. Head coach Sean McVay announced during the Rams press conference that wide receiver/kick returner Pharoh Cooper will be taking over punts as well:
“Cooper and Pharoh did a nice job there fielding those,” McVay said. “It’s looking like probably Pharoh will be the guy that will do that for us, but Cooper has done it already where you really look at in some of those punt save situations, very sure-handed.”
Following Austin’s second muffed punt of the day in Week 5, McVay turned to a combination of Cooper and wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Although Cupp is seemingly the most sure-handed player they have on the team, Cooper has proven to be an effective kick returner.
Cooper currently leads the NFL in total kick return yards with 352 and his 66-yard return versus the Dallas Cowboys is the longest return by any player this year. While the move certainly makes sense, for now, Austin hinted that his days as a punt returner are not yet over.