After going undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft, Miles was brought into Dallas by another New Jersey native in Bill Parcells. While being mainly a special teams performer his first few seasons, Austin finally got his big break in 2009. With the team deciding to part ways with Terrell Owens after the 2008 season, Austin headed into the 2009 season 3rd on the depth chart behind Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton. With an injury to Roy Williams, Austin got his first start in Kansas City and all Cowboys fans remember the performance. Austin had 10 catches for 250 yards all while breaking the Cowboys single game receiving yards record that had stood since 1966.
Austin finished the 2009 season with 81 catches, 1320 yards, and 11 touchdowns. At the beginning of the 2010 season, Jerry Jones rewarded Austin with a 6 year extension that totaled to $54 million that was to begin in the 2011 season. In 2010, Austin had another great campaign with 69 catches for 1041 yards and 7 touchdowns. In 2011 (the first of Austin’s new deal), Austin’s hamstring issues started to crop up. After starting the season well, Austin only managed to play in 10 games and finished with 43 catches for 579 yards and 7 touchdowns. In 2012, Austin was able to play in all 16 games (though dealing with hamstring issues again) and had 66 catches for 943 yards and 6 touchdowns.
This season, it seems as if the wheels have fallen off of Austin as his hamstrings have been an issue all season long. The team tried to “baby” Austin through training camp and the preseason only to have their best efforts turn up sour. Austin hasn’t had a catch since Week 3 against St. Louis, and has posted only 15 receptions for a grand total of 125 yards and 0 touchdowns in 5 games played.
Hamstring injuries are hard deal with, and very unfortunate for players that have them. Once the muscle is tweaked/torn, it takes time to heal and needs to fully before a player comes back. Also, when the muscle repairs itself, it is done so with scar tissue, and not the same tissue as was there prior. Thus, once a tweak/tear has occurred to an athlete, it becomes more and more likely to occur again because the percentage of pure muscle tissue is decreasing while the percentage of scar tissue is rising.
With Austin’s situation not likely to get better, and the break-out seasons of Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and Dwayne Harris, Austin’s career as a Cowboy is coming to a crossroads. To stay on the roster for next season and beyond, Austin will be looking at a substantial pay cut. If he does not agree to one with the Cowboys, he will be released. As a free agent on the open market, the type of salary he could command with his injury history the past few seasons should be minimal. Jerry Jones likes Austin since they discovered him, he is a stand-up guy, and for his route running ability. However, with the team’s cap situation the way it is, football is a business and this will be interesting to see how this turns out.
Follow Craig Cortemeglia on Twitter at @ccortemegliaTLH