Eatman: Healthy Austin Becomes Even Higher Priority Now

Stability at the receiver position is now wearing very thin. All summer long it's been a case of having two quality starters – arguably one of the most dangerous 1-2 combinations in the league – but behind them has been a huge question mark.

Enter Dez Bryant's recent arrest and cloudy satiation in terms of a possible suspension, and now that 1-2 punch might not be available for the first game.

Obviously, that matter has to be sorted out and will over time, but it puts tremendous pressure once again on Miles Austin. If you remember last year, it was Austin who couldn't stay healthy in the preseason because of a hamstring injury. He played through it for two games and scored four touchdowns before it was decided he needed to rest it for three games.

Austin then missed another three games after straining the other hamstring, totaling him to six missed games in the regular season and three preseason games as well.

This summer Austin was quoted as saying he wasn't fully prepared for last season, mainly because of the lockout and didn't have his body ready to go.

Well, hopefully for his sake and the rest of the team, that isn't the case in 2012. And I'm sure it won't be an issue. Austin didn't say he was out of shape, he only said his body wasn't as prepared as it could've been.

This year, the Cowboys can't afford any injuries at the receiver position, especially at the top. This team only has three players with an NFL reception – Austin, Bryant and Kevin Ogletree, whose position with the team is far from a lock.

I'm not suggesting the Cowboys go easy on Austin or rest more than they normally would, but keeping him as healthy as possible is a must right now. To me, I'd play him a series or two tops in the first two preseason games and then maybe a quarter in the so-called dress rehearsal.

He's been here long enough. He knows the offense, he knows Tony Romo's game and he knows all the spots on the field. But he's got to be healthy and ready for Sept. 5 against the Giants. Everyone else is up for grabs.

 
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