Roster reports: Cooper at PR, Joyner back

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    Pharoh Cooper expected to be Rams’ punt returner

    Alden Gonzalez

    THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Pharoh Cooper is expected to take over Tavon Austin’s role as the Los Angeles Rams’ punt returner, coach Sean McVay said after Wednesday’s practice. The Rams were going to try out Cooper Kupp as well, but he already plays a big role in the offense and Cooper has been producing as a kickoff returner.

    Cooper ranks third in kickoff-return average, at 27.1 yards, but he also fumbled one of his NFL-leading 13 attempts. A fourth-round pick out of South Carolina last year, Cooper returned five punts as a rookie, totaling 5 yards. Austin has been returning the vast majority of punts for the Rams the last four years, averaging 8.9 yards and scoring three touchdowns, one shy of the NFL lead from 2013 to 2016.

    But Austin has muffed four punts this season, three of which gave possession to the opposing team. Austin muffed a punt Sunday, was replaced by Kupp, then tried again, muffed another and was ultimately replaced for good.

    “I know my situation,” Austin said after Wednesday’s practice. “I really believe I’m the best punt returner in the league; just gotta get rid of a couple problems I’m dealing with right now. But it’s going to be what it’s going to be. I’d rather come off than hurt this team.”


    Practice Report: Joyner Returns to Practice, Ogletree Talks Jaguars Run Game

    Kristen Lago

    The Rams began their preparation week for the Jaguars on Wednesday afternoon at Cal Lutheran. Los Angeles will travel to Jacksonville in Week 6, before heading to London to face the Cardinals.


    The Rams released their official injury report after Wednesday’s practice. Six players were listed on the release, including left tackle Andrew Whitworth, center John Sullivan and outside linebacker Connor Barwin. All three were held out of Wednesday’s session for rest, as part of the team’s “maintenance program” meant to keep many of the veteran players healthy for game action.

    Linebacker Mark Barron and cornerback Troy Hill did not participate in the afternoon session with a knee and shoulder injury, respectively. But head coach Sean McVay said Barron “should be good to go” for Sunday’s matchup against the Jaguars.


    Safety Lamarcus Joyner returned to practice on Wednesday as a limited participant. Joyner suffered a hamstring injury two weeks ago and has been held out of practice ever since. The four-year pro said he “felt okay,” during the session, but was admittedly “a little rusty.”

    “I have to get back into the groove, but it was okay for the most part,” he said. “I’m going through the process, I’m progressing, getting better, and that’s all that matters at this point right now.”

    Joyner said sitting out of two games has been extremely difficult for him, especially as someone who “loves the game,” and wants to be out on field “to help his teammates win.”

    However, in sitting on the sidelines, the former Florida State standout did get a chance to watch and evaluate rookie John Johnson III, who stepped in as a starter in Week 5 in place of Maurice Alexander.

    “He played really well,” Joyner said. “[It was] definitely a good game to show how good of a football player you can be and I think he handled the situation well.”

    And though Joyner says his status for Week 6 is “still up in the air,” he and McVay are optimistic about his progress.

    “Tomorrow will really offer a great feel for us in terms of we’ll ramp up the tempo a little bit, we’ll put the pads on,” McVay said. “So, that will give us a better indicator of where Lamarcus is at and how his hamstring handles a little bit heavier workload and then I think that will give us an idea if he’ll be ready to go against Jacksonville or not.”

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