St. Louis Rams

Rams backfield getting healthy; Donald and Austin honored by NFC

It was a full-house backfield Wednesday at Rams Park with Tre Mason joining rookie Todd Gurley and Week 1 starter Benny Cunningham for St. Louis Rams practice.

Mason, the team’s leading rusher last season with 765 yards, sat out last week with a hamstring strain. Gurley split reps with the first-team offense on Wednesday as did Mason and Cunningham.

Gurley, the 10th overall pick in the draft earlier this year, was listed as a full participant at practice on the Rams’ official injury report. The former University of Georgia standout has been out since November, when he underwent ACL surgery.

“Benny did a nice job last week for us filling in,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “He made a lot of plays; protection, passing game and run game against a good defense. It’s good to get Todd (back) ... Todd was working with the offense today and Tre had a full practice, so it’s good to see them both in there.”

Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who left Sunday’s game with a concussion, was back on the field Wednesday after passing baseline testing. He even picked off a pass during practice and said he hopes to gain full clearance soon.

“He’s got one more thing that he has to pass,” Fisher said. “Typically when you’re cleared for practice, then things look pretty good.”

Cunningham was a solid replacement in the season opener against Seattle, rushing for 45 yards on 16 carries. He also caught four passes for 77 yards.

“Benny’s dependable,” Rams offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti said. “You can hand him the ball. You know he’s going to protect for you. You know he’s going to catch the football out of the backfield. Benny’s a good, complete football player.”

Mason felt he was close to being able to play Sunday.

“Of course I think that was my first game that I’ve ever missed in my career, so that really hurt me,” Mason said. “I’m glad we came out victorious as a team and were looking forward to next week. I was close. I wasn’t 100 percent, I’m not going to lie.

“But I was pretty close. I felt like it was smart decision to sit that week out so I didn’t miss more time. It was a very good decision.”

Mason admitted doing a little bit of lobbying to play.

“Of course I wanted to be out there,” he said. “It didn’t feel good to watch that. We all look at each other like brothers, if everybody’s doing good, that means we’re doing well as a team and as a unit. We’re pretty confident in whoever’s back there.”

Rams take NFC Player of the Week honors

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald claimed NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors following his monster game Sunday in the season-opening win over Seattle, while Rams teammate Tavon Austin was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Fisher said he thinks its the first time the Rams have ever had two NFC Players of the Week.

Donald racked up two sacks and three tackles for loss among his nine tackles, including a huge stop on Marshawn Lynch on fourth-and-short at the Rams’ 42-yard line with teammate Michael Brockers to close out the victory. The Seahawks found no answer for Donald, who was in their offensive backfield much of the afternoon.

Austin, the eighth overall pick in the 2013 draft, had a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown and added a 16-yard rushing TD. He has three punt returns for touchdowns in his relatively young career.

This is the first NFC Defensive Player of the Week honor for Donald, who was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year last season.

  Comments