Rams receivers Watkins, Austin clear concussion protocol, will play against Cowboys on Sunday – Los Angeles Times


Sammy Watkins enjoyed a breakout game. Tavon Austin is hungry for the same opportunity.

Both Rams receivers were cleared Friday from concussion protocol and will play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Watkins is coming off a six-catch, two-touchdown performance in the Rams’ 41-39 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

The fourth-year pro said that he was “back to my normal self” after suffering what he said was the first concussion of his career.

“Once I got up and was walking, I knew something was wrong,” he said of the injury.

Before he was hurt, Watkins put on a dynamic display at Levi’s Stadium with a “Thursday Night Football” television audience watching.

Among his catches was a spectacular over-the-shoulder reception that gained 47 yards.

Watkins looked over his right shoulder and then, in full stride, looked over his left shoulder to make the sideline catch. Quarterback Jared Goff placed the ball perfectly.

“Jared just threw a great ball to protect me from the safety,” Watkins said. “And I’d rather him throw it that way than get me knocked out.”

Watkins said he had run the same route in practice — and dropped the ball.

“In the game it was little bit easier to catch it because I had dropped it in practice,” he said, adding that he was thinking, “ ‘I’ve got to catch this one.’

“I’d already went through the process of dropping it, and I’m like ‘I’m going to catch it.’ ”

Austin is still seeking an opportunity to make his mark.

The fifth-year year pro, who is earning about $15 million this season, has lined up wide, in the slot and in the backfield but has not played a big role in an offense that includes running back Todd Gurley and receivers Watkins, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.

Austin has one catch for seven yards and eight carries for 33 yards.

“It’s hard but I’ve been through it,” he said, “So just got to make a play. That’s all it boils down to. Make a play.”

Austin said he had not suffered a concussion previously. He is in “a little slump right now,” but will bounce back, he said.

Against the 49ers, Austin fumbled a punt for the second time this season. Coach Sean McVay has said that he is sticking with Austin, who has returned three punts for touchdowns in his career.

“It’s concentration,” Austin said of the remedy for his miscues. “Just have to get my hands and feet up under me.”

Austin appeared to score against the 49ers on a jet sweep, but the nine-yard touchdown was overturned when officials reviewed the play and determined Austin’s knee had touched the ground before he extended the ball past the goal line. Watkins scored a few plays later.

“I’ve probably got the most touchdowns called back on me,” Austin said. “I smile … the point is we still got the win.”

McVay and Gurley — the NFC offensive player of the month — said this week that the offense would not be thriving without Austin as a threat.

Offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur concurred.

“The defense definitely has to account for him on each and every play, which in turn opens up some of these other guys in their routes,” LaFleur said.

Austin is confident his time will come.

“I’m not producing that much with the ball in my hands but when I’m in there, my fakes, my jet sweeps, it’s doing numbers,” he said, adding, “I know what I can do, and I know what I’m going to do eventually.”

Etc.

Safety Lamarcus Joyner will not play Sunday because of a hamstring injury suffered against the 49ers. Safety Cody Davis also is questionable because of a quadriceps injury. McVay said Blake Countess and rookie John Johnson could play in rotation at free safety with strong safety Maurice Alexander. Center John Sullivan (groin) was limited Friday and is questionable. If Sullivan cannot play, Austin Blythe will start in his place.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein

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