Crayton confirms that Austin will start

IRVING, Texas -- Patrick Crayton is willing to say what the Dallas Cowboys coaches wouldn't: He's been replaced in the starting lineup by Miles Austin.

Crayton just wishes somebody would have told him that. He figured it out Monday, when Austin worked opposite Roy Williams in two-wide receiver sets.

Austin continued to get reps with the starters during Wednesday's practice, but Crayton said none of the coaches has explained the situation to him.

"I would have loved it," Crayton said of an explanation from head coach Wade Phillips or offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. "It would have been real stand-up. That's not what happened. Oh, well."

Phillips, however, insisted that Crayton had been informed about the change during a meeting. Phillips, who finally acknowledged Wednesday afternoon that Austin would start, left open the possibility of a one-on-one meeting with Crayton.

"When that comes up, we may do that," said Phillips, who pointed out Crayton could start Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons if Williams' rib injury causes him to miss another game. "We discussed it with him. I have no doubt about that."

Crayton, who dealt with a similar demotion after the Cowboys traded for Williams in the middle of last season, isn't pouting about becoming a No. 3 receiver again. He considers his role "to help in whatever way possible." He just feels that, as a six-year veteran, he deserves an explanation.

"That way you're not in the dark about why the change is made," Crayton said.

It's not as if Crayton didn't see it coming. He knew when Wade Phillips told the media last Monday that Austin would play "50-something" snaps per game on the heels of his franchise-record 250-yard performance. But Crayton wonders how much his admittedly poor performance in Kansas City affected the decision.

"I mean, it's obvious," Phillips said. "[Austin] had 250 yards receiving in one game. We said it all along -- it's hard to say that you're not going to play the guy. I think he deserves to start."

Based on production, one could make the case that Austin (15 catches, 331 yards, three touchdowns) and Crayton (15 catches, 243 yards, one touchdown) should be the starters with Williams (11 catches, 214 yards, one touchdown) relegated to the third receiver role. But, considering Williams' arrival in a blockbuster trade and $9 million-per-year salary, Crayton knew that wasn't a realistic scenario.

"When you give up a first and third and a sixth and you pay a guy that much," Crayton said, "he's gotta play."

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail tim.macmahon@espn3.com.