GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas – Miles Austin, who has always taken great pride in his work ethic, didn’t mean to portray himself as some sort of slacker.
That’s how some interpreted Austin’s recent comments that he wasn’t in the best physical shape last season, when he missed six games plus a chunk of training camp due to problems with both hamstrings after working out on his own during the lockout.
“What I meant to say is that I felt prepared. I felt prepared, but what I’m doing now with (strength and conditioning coach Mike) Woicik and our team is different than what I was doing,” Austin said Thursday night at Lone Star Park, where he attended the Stars of Texas fundraiser for diabetes research. “I’m confident in what we’re doing now. I feel good. I’m working out every day. I mean, I was working out every day before, but now I’m working out with our strength coaches.”
Asked if he was concerned that the hamstring issues could be chronic, Austin said, “I’m working very hard.”
No one ever questioned Austin’s work ethic during his ascent from an undrafted scout-team receiver out of Monmouth to a Pro Bowler with a six-year, $54 million contract, although hamstring issues sidelined him during most of the offseason workouts and some of training camp in 2009.
Austin’s past production and paycheck ensure that he’s held to a higher standard now. He proved that he was capable of performing like an elite receiver in 2009, when he caught 81 passes for 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns despite not starting until the fifth game of the season.
Austin’s numbers dipped after he signed his lucrative extension, as he caught 69 passes for 1,041 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010, a dropoff that can be partially attributed to quarterback Tony Romo missing most of the season. Austin was the Cowboys’ third most productive receiver (43 catches, 579 yards, seven touchdowns) during his injury-plagued campaign last year.
It would seem as if Austin has as much to prove this season as anybody on the Cowboys’ roster.
“I always have,” Austin said. “I’m trying to make the team every year. That’s the approach that I go with, to be honest. …
“Everything you have to earn anyway. It’s not a mentality. I feel like it’s a lifestyle and a reality.”
Austin has changed tax brackets since be broke into the league as an undrafted rookie, but he insists his attitude is the same.
Unlike some players overlooked in the draft, Austin isn’t fueled by proving people wrong. His motivation is to maximize his potential.
“I feel like a chip sometimes can be a negative feeling or something like that,” Austin said. “I think positive feelings help you play better, personally. Someone else, negative might work with them, but I don’t really go out with a chip.
“I’m going out just to work hard. I genuinely enjoy working hard and competing. It’s not an angry, nobody-picked-me, whatever-type anger. It’s just that I’m going to go out and play hard and work.”
He’s working hard this offseason under the supervision of a strength coach with six Super Bowl rings, which Austin hopes will help keep him healthy all season.