The Dallas Cowboys gave Miles Austin a day off during the mandatory minicamp last week, and he sat out some of the voluntary practices before that.
It was by design. The Cowboys were trying to protect Austin from himself, getting him off the field every now and then to keep him from overworking his hamstrings.
He said he thinks it helped.
“It’s one of those things where you can’t not do it and then do it and tell the difference,” he said. “But I feel good now.”
Austin has been slowed by hamstring problems each of the past two seasons. He missed six games in 2011, and last year he missed part of training camp because of hamstrings. He played in all 16 games, but he couldn’t finish either game against Washington because of hip and ankle injuries.
“During the year, there’s going to be injuries,” he said. “You’re going to be banged up here and there, but you’ve just got to fight through it. I felt like last year, I might have been banged up a few times throughout the season, but I kept going back with it, kept practicing, kept playing.”
Austin said he would have rather practiced every day during the OTAs and minicamp, given his choice.
“I want to go,” he said. “When coach says you can’t, you just kind of have to sit there and not go. But it’s tough for me, sometimes, just to watch the other guys going and not be out there, especially in this heat and knowing how it is to play wideout. You’re out there running. You get tired, and you want at least a few more bodies in there to take some of that load off.”
Dallas defensive end Tyrone Crawford said he has trimmed down to 285 pounds, the target weight the Cowboys wanted him to aim for this year.
So not only is he a bit slimmer and in a new position in the team’s new 4-3 alignment, but he also has changed numbers. He has gone from 70 to 98.
“I’m always the same person. The number really doesn’t matter,” he said.
Crawford said he sees himself as a defensive end, which is where the Cowboys have tried playing him during the organized team activities and minicamp.
It’s where he played in college at Boise State, and where he feels good.
“Yeah, I loved it in college. I loved playing on the outside in college,” he said. “And then being able to go inside and play tackle a little bit. I’m happy we got into this year and are doing it.”
He called the difference between playing inside in a 3-4 scheme last season and outside this off-season in the 4-3 alignment “day and night.”
“I was playing inside last year, playing against a guard. Now, I’m playing against a tackle every time or a tight end and a tackle,” he said.
Coale eager to return
Receiver Danny Coale said he’s targeting training camp in July as the return date from the torn anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered last November.
While his teammates participated in minicamp last week, Coale went through his rehab routine.
“It’s going really well,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot work to get back on the field. We’re heading in the right direction.”
The 2012 fifth-round pick out of Virginia Tech is eager to return after a frustrating rookie season.
“I never got hurt in college,” Coale said. “It’s tough, but you learn a lot. If you play football for a long time, you’re going to get hurt. For me, it was this past year.”
New bag policy
The Cowboys and the NFL announced a new bag policy, limiting what fans may bring into the stadium.
The league will now allow only clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bags no bigger than 12 by 6 by 12 inches and a “clutch” bag, about the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap.
Fans can also bring in a one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag like a Ziploc.
Medically necessary items will be allowed after they’ve been inspected.
Fans will not be allowed to bring in purses, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, luggage, seat cushions, computer bags or camera bags.
The NFL has 12x6x12 bags with team logos on sale at www.nflshop.com, but fans can obtain their own anywhere, the league said. The price of the bags on www.nflshop.com was unavailable Thursday afternoon, but the text of the policy is there.