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Tavon Austin had 'great offseason,' Frank Cignetti says

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Is this the year the St. Louis Rams' steep investment in Tavon Austin finally pays off?

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The No. 8 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft has been nothing short of a bust through two seasons, averaging less than 10.0 yards per catch as a gadget player in the Rams offense.

Although Austin will have to battle Brian Quick and Stedman Bailey for snaps behind Kenny Britt, new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti is optimistic about a breakout season.

"Tavon Austin's had a great offseason," Cignetti said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It starts in the classroom. He's learning. He's paying attention. He's bringing it to the practice field.

"You just see it from his route running. What a difference. His effort, his attention to details. Every day out there, the guy's made plays."

Whether it's because paint-by-numbers former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer couldn't maximize the receiver/running back hybrid's talents or because Austin lacks any semblance of tackle-breaking power, the development simply hasn't been there.

Austin admitted last summer that he struggled to pick up the Rams offense early in his career. Cignetti's comments suggest the light might finally be flipping on.

If that is truly the case, he can race Britt, Quick and Bailey for the honor of becoming the first Rams receiver since Torry Holt in 2007 to reach the 800-yard mark in a season.

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