Rams could get Tavon Austin, Shaun Hill back after bye week



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ST. LOUIS — Tavon Austin could return to the St. Louis Rams lineup after the bye week.

Perhaps Shaun Hill, too.

The Rams (1-2) can use the help given the struggles on defense.

Though Austin Davis has had two interceptions returned for touchdowns, they've given up 34 points twice.

Both Austin and Hill got work in the first of two practices Wednesday. Austin was wearing a brace to stabilize the right knee injury that sidelined him last week.

"We're going to see how it goes, but so far I've made a lot of progress," Austin said. "I keep being positive that I'll bounce back."

Coach Jeff Fisher maintains the 34-year-old Hill is his starter if healthy, and Hill believes he's closer to being ready for the Oct. 5 game at Philadelphia.

"I feel good," Hill said. "My expectations are to be ready any week, that's just the mind-set I always take. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."

Fisher described players working through a "fussy" stage reviewing video of their collapse against the Cowboys before getting their minds straight. Dallas rallied from a 21-0 deficit to win 34-31.

"They got back, we had a really good session," Fisher said. "We're looking at some things that we need to do better."

After one more practice, the coach encourages them to escape.

"Once we finish up here tomorrow, it's about getting away from football," Fisher said. "Go back to your alma mater, watch the game, do something, but get away."

Many players planned on sticking around during a break that serves as a pause button and allows time to reflect on a disappointing start. They'll be gearing up for the 13-week grind to follow, too.

Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said there's no satisfaction in succeeding on defense, except for the handful of plays that got the team beat.

"You can't keep coming in on a Monday being like 'Man, if we eliminate those four or five plays then guess what, they only have X amount of yards and this and this,'" Laurinaitis said. "Those four or five plays make a difference."

Hill hasn't played the past two games with a left quadriceps injury, but has felt good enough in both to be the backup.

If he's ready for next week, Fisher might have to make a tough choice.

Hill said the team made the right call in taking him out at halftime of the opening loss to the Vikings.

On his last pass, an interception that led to a touchdown, Hill was trying to throw it out of bounds. He said he'd been injured a few plays earlier on a bootleg that was called back.

"Honestly, you try to fight through things especially in the position that I'm in," Hill said. "Somebody else has to get you out of the game.

"I wasn't going to be able to help the team out there."

Hill totaled just 16 passes as the backup in Detroit in the three previous seasons. He took over after Sam Bradford's season-ending knee injury in the third preseason week and the opener was his first start since 2010.

Fisher is getting other players into the mix this week including running back Tre Mason, a third-round pick who hasn't played yet due to pass blocking issues. Fisher said Mason was doing a "nice job" on special teams.

Earlier this week, Fisher said cornerback Trumaine Johnson could return from a knee injury sustained in the preseason. But Johnson didn't practice Wednesday.


AP NFL websites: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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