Because of recurring hamstring injuries, Miles Austin missed a significant portion of training camp and only appeared in 10 games for the Cowboys in 2011. When he did play, his numbers dipped.
Austin caught only 43 passes for 579 yards, with seven touchdowns, down considerably from his career year in 2009, when he had 81 grabs, 1,320 yards and 11 TDs, playing all 16 games. Austin's yards-per-catch average dropped from 16.3 in 2009 to 15.1 in 2010 and 13.5 in 2011.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is convinced Austin's skills are not diminishing, and doesn't believe the 2009 season was a flash in the pan. Jones believes the hamstring injuries were really the only problem this past season.
"Just completely," Jones said. "He just didn't have many reps that he didn't have either the lingering concern about a recent pull or the twinges of the recent pull. I don't know that he had a play this year that that wasn't a part of what we saw in Miles. You just can't help yourself when you've had a pull and you go out there, the trainers are telling you 'Be very sensitive about it if you feel any tightness, if you feel anything.' Well, that's going to do what? You're going to feel something, especially coming off the injury. And so you measure what you're doing as a player more than you would be, and I think that impacted his year.
"I'm completely betting 100 percent that his injury really impacted not only him and his performance, but it hurt out team."
Jones acknowledges that Austin's injury history dating back to the early years of his career, similar to that of Dez Bryant, impacts his thinking with free agent receiver Laurent Robinson.
But Jones believes Austin has handled his injuries well, and doesn't think he's more prone to missing games as he gets older. Austin will be 28 at the end of June.
"I think he's done a great job not only playing through but preparing himself for them," Jones said. "I don't think that this is a consequence of him being a year older than he was before."