Team owner Jerry Jones told a local radio station on Tuesday morning that Austin will likely sit out this Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Rams and the preseason finale against the Miami Dolphins on Aug. 29 as he continues to mend from a nagging hamstring injury.
His loss further depletes a Cowboys receiving group that is now missing its top three weapons in wide receiver Dez Bryant (right knee) and tight end Jason Witten (lacerated spleen). It’s unlikely any of them play the remainder of the preseason, meaning other players will have to step up their play.
Austin has not practiced since originally straining his hamstring on Aug. 4, but the Cowboys anticipate that he was will be ready for the Sept. 5 season opener against the New York Giants. Head coach Jason Garrett is taking a decidedly conservative approach to Austin’s recovery, given that Austin missed six games last year due to separate hamstring strains.
“We’re basically just wanting to make sure he’s ready for New York,” Jones told KRLD-FM. “That’s where it’s all headed for him. He probably will need some work, just logic tells you, before he gets in the game, but we’re not interested in seeing him (play in the preseason).
“The risks of him getting out there and really competing at this time would I think be overruled (by) the game we have for him being completely healthy in New York. Now, I’m sure he’d be the first to tell you he could go if we were playing New York tonight, and we will have him ready as he can be for that. So that’s the plan.”
Austin missed the final three preseason games last year with a strained hamstring. He enjoyed his best two games of the regular season in the first two weeks, registering five catches for 90 yards and a touchdown against the New York Jets and nine receptions for 143 yards and three scores against the San Francisco 49ers.
However, Austin aggravated the hamstring in the fourth quarter of the comeback win over the 49ers and missed the next two weeks. He missed four more games later in the season after straining his other hamstring.