Cowboys' practice eye-opener for Austin

IRVING, Texas – Marvin Austin received an unexpected welcome in his first day of on-field work with the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday.

“One thing I can say is practice is the realest I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Austin said.

The Cowboys signed Austin on Tuesday. He spent two seasons with the New York Giants and was with the Miami Dolphins for two games before his release earlier this month.

“It's definitely a new beginning and a lot to build on,” said Austin, who is not only wearing Jay Ratliff's old No. 90 but also occupying Ratliff's old locker.

The Cowboys have reshaped their defensive line throughout the year. At 6-foot-2 and 312 pounds, Austin provides more size and speed on the line's interior. A former Giants second-round pick, Marvin is hoping -- as are the Cowboys -- that defensive line coach Rod Marinelli has the same effect on the 24-year-old that the coach had on the Cowboys' other no-name defensive linemen, such as George Selvie Nick Hayden, Caesar Rayford, Jason Vega and Jarius Wynn.

“His track record speaks for itself, and coach [Monte] Kiffin’s also,” Austin said. “The way those guys coach and the success they’ve had in this league, I mean, I have no excuses.”

The first thing Austin has to do is get in better shape.

“Not good enough,” he said when asked how he felt. “To be honest with you, just the way they practice and the way they want you to go out there and play, I’ve got to keep working every day to get in shape to go out there and perform.”