Cowboys sign former Giants second-round pick Marvin Austin to reinforce improving defensive line

Posted Monday, Oct. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The Cowboys continue to look for pieces for the defensive line, despite its improved play in wins against the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles.

The team on Monday signed former second-round pick Marvin Austin, released by the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago. Austin was a 2011 draft choice of the New York Giants, but missed his rookie season with a torn pectoral muscle. He played in eight games for the Giants last year, was released at the end of training camp this year, and picked up by the Dolphins, where he played two games.

“He’s in pretty decent shape because he’s been in training camp and been playing,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We’d like to tap into some of that ability that caused him to be such a high draft pick.”

Garrett said the Cowboys thought of Austin as a 4-3 defensive line player, so they stayed away from him in the draft because they ran a 3-4.

Character concerns also caused Austin to slip in the 2011 draft. He was one of eight players suspended at North Carolina for receiving improper benefits.

“You want to give a guy a blank slate when he comes in, and hopefully the environment you create for him brings out the best in him,” Garrett said. “We’re in a situation where we have to cast the net a little bit wide.”

Austin is the latest defensive tackle the Cowboys have tried. Last week, they signed a practice squad player, Jason Vega, and former Packers defensive end Jarius Wynn. Three weeks ago, they added former LSU player Drake Nevis. They have also signed, and since released, David Carter.

Miles Austin plan

Jason Garrett said receiver Miles Austin is “not quite himself” and intimated that the Cowboys might hold him out of another game or two so he can fully recover from the hamstring injury he suffered in Week 3.

“He really had a good start to the season, had some good explosiveness and quickness to him, and was productive for us,” Garrett said. “Then he tweaked his hamstring a couple of weeks ago and hasn’t been the same. We’ve got to make sure we get him healthy, and hopefully we can do that and have some other guys play for him until he’s ready to really to roll.”

The Cowboys might be able to afford patience because of the breakout play of Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley. Williams had six catches for 71 yards and a touchdown Sunday. Beasley had six catches for 53 yards. 

Since Austin’s last catch, against the Rams, Williams has 19 catches for 320 yards and three touchdowns and Beasley has 17 catches for 160 yards and a score.

Injury update

Jason Garrett said DeMarco Murray “has been our starter and will be our starter” when he returns form a sprained left knee, although the Cowboys do want to keep giving Joseph Randle chances to run the ball, even when another injured back, Lance Dunbar, returns.

“We’ll just kind of see what the health of each of these guys is and what is their availability as we go forward to figure out a rotation plan,” Garrett said.

Garrett sounded optimistic about Dunbar, who has a hamstring injury from Week 3. “We are hopeful that he can practice some time this week and we will have him available for the ballgame,” Garrett said.

Garrett said defensive end DeMarcus Ware ran Monday and made progress on his recovery from a strained quadriceps.

The Cowboys believe Edgar Jones’ groin injury will keep the defensive end out six to eight weeks, Garrett said.

Phillips, Adams reaction

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett reacted to the deaths of former Oilers coach Bum Phillips and owner Bud Adams, three days apart.

“I consider Bud one of the founders of the game of professional football because of his role in helping to create the American Football League,” Jones said in a statement. “Loyalty was always a strong trademark of Bud Adams. He turned down an opportunity to place an NFL team in Houston because he had already made a prior commitment to Lamar Hunt and the AFL. Bud was a role model for me. He was a great man and a great Texan. He will be missed and remembered.”

Phillips’ son, Wade, is a former Cowboys coach, and grandson Wes is a tight ends coach for the Cowboys.

“He’s certainly a legend,”  Garrett said of Bum Phillips. “One of the great coaches in this league. A legendary high school coach here in Texas and a fantastic guy. I didn’t know Bum well. I only visited with him only on a couple of different occasions, but I’ve had tremendous fondness for Wade and for Wes and their entire family.

“So many great stories about him and just his approach to football, his approach to life and the kind of guy he’s been for a long, long time. He lived 90 years, he lived a full life and impacted a lot of lives. I think anybody whose had a chance to be around him would say the same thing; a really special person.”

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez

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