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Training Camp Notebook: Tavon Austin is a mystery

It's a well-worn axiom of NFL preseason that coaches -- especially the experienced ones -- don't show their hands until the games count for real. That means not going deep into their offensive or defensive playbooks. It also means not giving any true idea of how they plan to use their most dynamic playmakers.

Enter Tavon Austin and the St. Louis Rams. Ever since Austin was drafted, scouts and coaches alike have raved about the things he can do with the football in his hands. So how will the Rams utilize this electric skill-set? If head coach Jeff Fisher knows, he's not telling.

The closest we've truly seen Austin get to this much-ballyhooed ability is his long punt return against the Broncos last week. Beyond that, his appearances in the offense have been pretty vanilla.

The NFL has a long history of young, multi-talented players who have been incorrectly used and never reached their potential. The question of whether Austin will be boom or bust could come down to what offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has in store for him. Schottenheimer's track record as an OC hasn't been encouraging and could be one more reason Austin is being overvalued in fantasy drafts.


Remember a week or so ago when everyone was agog at the offensive production of the Cleveland Browns? Okay, so it wasn't everyone. For every positive tweet we had about a Browns player, we would get back several reminding us to slow our roll and that it was still the preseason.

But after the Browns laid an egg in the third preseason game against the Colts, some folks thought the sky was falling. To which, quarterback Brandon Weeden warned people no to "push the panic button". I agree with him.

The Browns aren't going to remind anyone of the New Orleans Saints, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about their offensive fortunes this season -- both on the field and in fantasy. A new offensive coordinator and the maturation of some key playmakers mean there's a gleam in Cleveland that hasn't been there in some time.

Quick outs

» The Green Bay Packers put running back DuJuan Harris (knee) on injured reserve, erasing any chance that he would be the team's starter this year. Not that anyone really believed it, but that was at least the story Mike McCarthy was pushing. Go ahead and move Eddie Lacy up your draft boards.

» Lamar Miller says he feels like he's won the Miami Dolphins running back job. He probably has, although it wasn't nearly as definitive as I thought it would be (or as he said it was). Dolphins brass continues to insist the race is close, but I think we see how this will end up. If only Miller had raced out to win the gig; instead it feels a bit like he won by default. That makes him a touch less attractive in fantasy circles.

» DeAndre Hopkins has been cleared to practice after dealing with concussion symptoms. Hopkins could be the second WR the Texans have been seeking -- with a chance to eventually take over for the aging Andre Johnson. The rookie is worth taking a chance on as long as you temper your expectations.

» Tennessee Titans receiver Kenny Britt is dealing with some swelling in his knee. Head coach Mike Munchak isn't concerned, but fantasy owners should be -- even if just a little bit. Britt hasn't played a full 16 games since his rookie season. This is just a reminder of his continued ailment issues.

» The Jets welcomed running back Mike Goodson back to the fold ... sort of. Goodson, who has dealt with a number of off-field issues this summer is back at practice, but was promptly suspended for the first four games of the season. Initially, it appeared he would challenge Chris Ivory for running back duties, but at this point, it will be hard for him to make a dent as even a backup option.

» Stop us if you've heard this one: Tony Moeaki is injured. The star-crossed Chiefs tight end suffered a fractured shoulder and is out indefinitely. That means more work for Anthony Fasano and rookie Travis Kelce, although neither is a particularly great fantasy option.

» Dan Carpenter is once again employed, at least temporarily. The veteran kicker was signed by the Jets after Gang Green released Billy Cundiff. The question is whether he can unseat Nick Folk as New York's kicker. The bigger question is whether the Jets can generate enough offense to make either player a viable fantasy option.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for You can follow him on Twitter @MarcasG.

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