Unlike his teammate, DeMarcus Ware, who joined the NFL as a first-round draft selection, Miles Austin joined the Cowboys without much of a college pedigree. While Ware had every reason to expect a degree of success in professional football, the former undrafted free agent out of tiny Monmouth University had to fight his way into a roster slot. Like down-roster guys everywhere, Austin managed to forge out a slot on the Dallas Cowboys roster as a special teams player.
During his rookie season of 2006, the biggest highlight that he provided was a 93-yard touchdown on a kickoff return during the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. That return was the first indication that the young WR might be someone to keep an eye on. For his second season, he was again primarily a "teams" guy. In fact he proved himself to be one of the NFC's better return men during the course of the season. For his efforts, Austin was rewarded with some opportunities to show what he could do as a part of the Dallas offense. For trivia buffs, Miles Austin recorded the first of his 301 receptions in a Cowboys uniform in a game against the New York Jets.
The 2008 season looked like it would be the "year" for Austin. He had a strong training camp and was poised to earn a starting slot. Unfortunately, in what was a sign of things to come, Miles Austin suffered his first lost time to injury (knee) during a preseason game. Still, once he returned, he made a positive impression. Facing the Green Bay Packers, Austin recorded his first 100-yard game. After bursting onto the stage in Dallas, he once again missed several games with a second knee problem.
The 2009 season saw the former UDFA finally make his mark in the National Football League. In his first career start, Miles lit up the Kansas City Chiefs for a team record 250-yard receiving day. It was the start of something big. All told, Miles would finish third in the league in receiving yards with 1,320. He also scored 11 touchdowns. For his efforts, Austin was selected to the Pro Bowl for the 2009 season.
2010 would see Austin follow up his trip to Hawaii with a second visit to the all-star game. He started the season with back-to-back 10 catch games and solidified himself among the league's top receivers. He also went over the thousand-yard marks for the second consecutive season. For Austin and the Dallas Cowboys the future looked bright.
2011 got off to a good start. Following a pair of strong performances to open the season, expectations were running high. Sadly, it was not to be. Miles Austin suffered the first of the hamstring problems that would mark the second half of his tenure in Dallas. He missed a total of six games that season. Although 2012 would once again see Austin threaten the thousand-yard barrier, injuries again impacted his performance on the field. By 2013, Austin was a shadow of what he had been. Even when he was able to take the field, he was not an impact player for Dallas. That, plus his large contract led the team to make the decision to part ways with the former Pro Bowler.
While there have been stars that burned brighter and longer in the Cowboys constellation, Miles Austin lit up the Dallas sky in a way that we will not soon forget. His time as a "star" may have been brief, but that in no way mitigates the value of what a healthy Miles Austin brought to the Dallas offense. While the injury-prone final half of his career will remain fresh in our minds for some time to come, as time goes on, things like the long TD return against Seattle and the 250-yard "breakout" game will be the lasting memories.
Miles, we here at Blogging The Boys thank you for the time you wore the star, and we wish you continued success and health throughout the remainder of your career (except if we meet you on the field, of course) and more importantly we wish you the best throughout your life. Thank you for the memories.