(FootballStL) -- The dog days of training camp are over and the necessary cuts have been made. Now the only thing left is for the remaining rookies, headed by first-round draft picks Tavon Austin and Alec Ogletree, to get their first real NFL experience -- which will come this Sunday.
Expected to make an immediate impact on offense and special teams, the Rams moved up to select the versatile Austin with the eighth overall pick in April’s draft. The West Virginia Mountaineer standout has spent his first months as an NFL player doing something familiar: studying.
“When I first got here it was pretty much different for me,” Austin said of his grasp of the playbook. “I’ve had a lot of help studying at night. I’m pretty much getting it down pat.”
Expected to commit rookie mistakes, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher has been left impressed with Austin’s willingness to do whatever is asked of him whether it’s returning punts or catching passes.
“He’s ready to go. He’s prepared to do whatever we ask him to do for us this week,” Fisher said. “He’s not had any issues whatsoever with our offense since his arrival.”
The quickness and speed of Austin will add to mix of young receivers who are developing with quarterback Sam Bradford. Although the word “young” is attached to the rookie receiver, Bradford has seen Austin mature in the short time he has been in the Rams system.
“I think he’s starting to understand the finer points of the offense and of the routes that he’s running,” Bradford said. “He came up to me at practice a couple times today and talked to me about small adjustments verse different coverages that they showed us, and that shows a lot to me because we haven’t had those conversations before.”
While comprehending the playbook has taken some time, it hasn’t long for Austin to realize there is one noticeable difference from the college level.
“Just the speed,” Austin said. “You’ve got a lot of (defensive) lineman and linebackers that can run with you.”
But it’s Austin’s speed that has garnered attention from around the league, specifically this week’s opponent, the Arizona Cardinals.
“He’s a dynamic player,” Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said. “You could see it coming out. Every time he touches the ball, you hold your breath.”
On the other side of the ball, the Rams will also be expecting big plays from Ogletree, a rookie linebacker selected 30th overall in the draft. The expectations may be even larger with the recent release of veteran Jo-Lonn Dunbar, although the team hasn’t ruled out his return.
“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Ogletree said. “We have a couple more days of practice and then we’ll be ready for the game. I’m just taking it one day at a time.”
Ogletree’s early life in the NFL has been spent much like Austin’s -- studying the playbook.
“Given that it was a new scheme for me, I’m definitely taking a little bit more time than some of the other guys to pick up on it,” Ogletree said. “I work hard each and every day to get the scheme. Right now I feel pretty good about the scheme and what we need to do.”
When asked if learning the Rams scheme was his hardest class ever, the Georgia Bulldog replied, “No, I wouldn’t say that. I took a pretty hard class at college. It’s definitely challenging though.”
Part of the challenge for Ogletree will be the high expectations. As a starting linebacker, the Rams need the rookie to play more like a veteran if the team has any plans of postseason football.
“We’re all depending on each other and on him, and he knows he can’t play like a rookie,” veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan said. “He’s got to go in there and play good ball like he did in Denver, and let that carry over and we’ll be alright.”