Remember when Miles Austin burst onto the scene? The undrafted Monmouth alum established himself as the replacement for Terrell Owens when he caught 10 Tony Romo passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009.
Before the 2011 season, Austin signed a $54 million contract extension, which he received based on his production in the 2009 and 2010 seasons. In 2009, Austin caught 81 passes for 1320 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2010, he caught 69 for 1041 and seven TD’s.
Then came the massive contract, the number one receiver designation…and the injury parade. Hamstrung by a chronic hamstring problem, Austin’s production has been in free-fall since Jerry Jones made him wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. In 2011, he amassed just 579 yards and seven TD’s. In 2012, with a bit more health; he managed 943 yards, but just six toudhdowns. With 2013 almost half done, he has caught 15 passes for 125 yards and no touchdowns.
Austin, always a little gimpy, has been such a nonfactor in the 2013 offense, that the Cowboys may “rest” him Sunday and save his spot on the roster for someone else:
Austin suffered the injury in the third quarter of Dallas’ Sept. 22 win against the St. Louis Rams and did not play against the San Diego Chargers andDenver Broncos. He has been targeted seven times in the past two games without a catch.
Austin did not practice Thursday or Friday because the Cowboys attempted to keep him fresh for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Austin played in 37 of 77 snaps against the Eagles.
“We had a lot of injuries prior to the ballgame that allowed us to dress Miles regardless,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He warmed up well so we gave him a chance to play in the ballgame. I thought he did fine. He’s not quite himself. He really had a good start to the season, had some good explosiveness and quickness to him, and was productive for us. Then he tweaked his hamstring a couple of weeks ago and hasn’t been the same. We’ve got to make sure we get him healthy, and hopefully we can do that and have some other guys play for him until he’s ready to really roll.”
Rookie receiver Terrance Williams, meanwhile, is coming on strong. After a shaky start with route-running issues and dropped passes, he is making exponential progress in recent games. He already has 24 catches for 380 yards and three touchdowns. With the explosiveness of receiver/kick returner Dwayne Harris and the emergence of Cole Beasley as a slot receiver, the Cowboys are getting good production from the wideout spot without Austin.
Austin seems like one of the good guys. He has kept a good attitude and has that infectious smile. But how much is that worth in dollars and
It may be time to figure out how to move forward without Miles. The tread on his tires is wearing thin and his value has waned to the point that the Cowboys are already upside down in this ride.