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Training Camp Spotlight: Miles Austin

IRVING, TX - SEPTEMBER 28:  Wide receiver Miles Austin #19 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Washington Redskins at Texas Stadium on September 28, 2008 in Irving, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Phil BrennanCorrespondent IJuly 15, 2016

The moment the Cowboys released Terrell Owens (TO) this past March, many questions were immediately raised.

Can wide receiver, Roy Williams, who was picked up in a midseason trade, pick up Owens slack as the lead receiver?

Would the Cowboys have to dramatically change its offensive approach due to TO’s departure?

Who will fill the void of TO’s down—the—field, big—play ability?

For the last question, the Cowboys are hoping the answer is already on the roster in the form of one, Miles Austin.

Entering into his fourth season out of Monmouth University, Austin will head into this training with an opportunity to carve out a significant role with the regular offense.

Even more, the Cowboys need him to step up.

Not since Terry Glenn in 2006, have the Cowboys had a legitimate deep threat (not named TO) that could stretch the field and keep opposing defenses honest.  In fact, some have argued that the absence of such a receiver is what helped neutralize TO’s effectiveness the past couple of seasons.

Jason Garrett and more importantly, Jerry Jones, recognize the need. After the draft, the Cowboys official website (dallascowboys.com) reported that had Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin slipped past the Philadelphia Eagles (No. 19) in the first round, Jones would have seriously considered trading up for him.

Either way, TO is gone; Maclin is with the Eagles; Roy Williams is now the lead receiver; and the Cowboys will need that deep threat this season. 

Austin brings many tools to the table; listed at 6’3’’ and 216 lbs., he’s not your prototypical smurf—sized burner. While he’s not the most agile in terms of changing directions, he’s shown the ability to run the route tree effectively and looks to be especially dangerous due to his size on slant routes, both short and deep.

It was apparent as early as last season’s preseason that something had clicked for Austin as a receiver. Instead of focusing robotically on his release, steps, and route, it was clear he was running more fluidly and attacking the ball in the air. 

Despite a relatively small sample size, Austin demonstrated his big—play ability, registering 278 yards on 13 receptions for three touchdowns. The Cowboys are confident that Austin can increase his production, but they must be concerned about his ability to remain healthy.

Injuries caused delays in Austin’s complete incorporation into the offense last season.  Furthermore, the mid—season trade for Roy Williams pushed Austin further down the depth chart behind Owens, Williams, and Crayton.

Things have since changed, and barring another injury setback, Austin looks to be primed to have an exponential increase in opportunities and production this season.

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