Sep 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin (19) on the field before the game against theTampa Bay Buccaneers at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Buccaneers 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys Still Need Miles Austin, Right?

When the Dallas Cowboys drafted WR, Terrance Williams, one of my first thoughts was – now they can put Miles Austin back in the slot where he belongs.  It also crossed my mind that if the Cowboys did that, then Dwayne Harris, who was starting to make a name for himself, would be relegated back to a spare receiver and return specialist.

When training camp opened, my concern turned to whether Miles Austin’s delicate hamstrings would make it to the regular season.  To my pleasant surprise, Miles’ hammys held up and the Cowboys set the receivers up just like I thought they would.  This of course also caused another problem – if what to do with Cole Beasley.

With the seeming glut at wide receiver, the Cowboys were having trouble fitting Beasley into the line up.  He was inactive the first couple games.  It was clear that Beasley would be Miles’ back up in the slot, which I was fine with, but that also relegated Beasley to an insurance policy status.  It was smart to have a back up plan for the often injured Miles Austin, but Cole Beasley is such a different type receiver, the dynamic of the receiving corp was different with Beasley in the slot than Miles.

The Cowboys insisted, once Miles had his break out game in Kansas City a few years ago in place of an injured Roy Williams, that he could and would be the #2 receiver for them.  Miles certainly had the size and speed to be, but he was more comfortable in the slot, and therefore more affective running those routes.  Of course, as we all know now, making Miles the #2 receiver, the #1 receiver while Dez Bryant was still being groomed, caused him to start breaking down.

The Cowboys love to do that to their best players – once the player emerges, they reward the player by putting him in a different position or roll that ultimately counters the talent and ability that made them emerge in the first place.  Marion Barber III, for example, was perfect as a back up, a punishing clean up running back.  When he emerged, the Cowboys made him the starter which effectively killed his career.  Barber’s style was not for every down.  Same could be said for the recently released Jay Ratliff, when the Cowboys moved him to nose tackle.  Promoting Miles Austin to a #1 or #2 receiving spot, in my opinion, brought on, or at least exaggerated, his hamstring problems.

Fast forward to the last few games.  Miles gets hurt.  Beasley comes in.  The dynamic of the slot receiver position changes. Beasley has some success in his Wes Welker ways.  Romo gets used to him and his role.  Then Miles gets healthy and gets back into the line up for yesterday’s game against the Eagles.  Beasley is also active and catches a few passes, gets a few first downs, running routes that suit his style.  Miles catches one pass off the turf that gets called incomplete when challenged and is otherwise short in the stat column.  Who should be in the slot going forward?

The emergence of that draft pick, Terrance Williams, as a true #2 receiver (the one that put Miles back in the slot) along with the expected, if cautious, success of Cole Beasley in the slot (filling in for an injured Miles), leaves Miles Austin where?

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