Dallas Cowboys News: How WR Injuries Impact Cowboys Early on

Ryan DavenportContributor IAugust 25, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 21:  Miles Austin #19 of the Dallas Cowboys scores a third quarter touchdown on a 3 yard pass from Jon Kitna #3 and celebrates with the fans during the game at Dallas Stadium on November 21, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys defeated the Lions 35-19.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

It's only the third week of preseason, but the Dallas Cowboys are already battered and bruised.

With less than two weeks to go until the Cowboys' season opener on the road against the Giants, many of Tony Romo's top receiving targets are racing against the clock to get healthy enough to play.

According to an ESPN report earlier this week, two-time Pro Bowler Miles Austin will be out until at least Week 1 with a hamstring injury.

To make matters worse, Dez Bryant, who made headlines for all the wrong reasons this summer, suffered a knee injury earlier this week. Though Nick Eatman of CBS Sports reported that Bryant has vowed to play in the season opener, he'll undoubtedly need time to get back to full strength.

If injuries to those two weren't enough, Jason Witten, arguably Romo's favorite target, is out with a lacerated spleen, and according to CBS Sports, his status for the game against the Giants is uncertain.

Obviously, Witten's injury is one that can cause further complications in the immediate future, but assuming he doesn't encounter any further setbacks, he should be back to hauling in Romo's bombs by the second or third week of the season.

Of the three, Austin's injury has to be the most concerning in the long-term, primarily because he's been battling hamstring injuries for over a year, and missed six games last season because of it.

Even if Austin is able to play in the season opener, a recurring injury like this is troubling, because it's difficult to count on a player who spends almost as much time in the athletic trainer's room as he does on the practice field.

At a minimum, if Austin is still on the mend by the time Week 1 rolls around, Dallas needs Bryant to be healthy when the Cowboys take the field at MetLife Stadium, because the team's receiving corps are dangerously thin after Bryant and Austin.

If both Bryant and Austin are out for Week 1, it'll be very difficult for the Cowboys to take down the defending Super Bowl Champions on the road. But the team's first priority has to be ensuring that their top offensive weapons are healthy and ready to go in the long-term, because otherwise they'll be on the outside looking in come postseason time.