Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said he primarily views Austin as a receiver, Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News reports. "We'll use him for a lot of things, but he's a receiver first." said Austin. "He's really in a lot of ways, some of his skill set is as an outside receiver, which is really unique, but he can move around, the slot."
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones both suggested Austin would get most of his playing time as a running back, but Linehan seems to have a slightly different vision. The 2013 first-round pick filled a variety of roles during his time with the Rams, serving as an outside receiver, slot receiver, passing-down back, punt returner and kick returner. He never truly thrived outside of the return game, and things even fell apart on that front last season when he struggled with ball security. Austin's best trick was his proficiency on jet sweeps, which helped atone for his lackluster receiving efforts as a slot man. Jerry Jones mentioned finding "a dozen or two dozen" touches per game for Austin, but something in the range of 5-10 (including special teams) would make a lot more sense. Austin had a personal best of 141 touches (8.8 per game) in 2015, with 52 catches, 52 carries, 34 punt returns and three kickoff returns.
Austin will be used as a "web-back" in Dallas, a role similar to the one Lance Dunbar held with the team, Clarence Hill Jr. of The Star-Telegram reports.
While Jerry Jones, with his usual panache, suggested that Austin could see "a dozen to 20 times, two dozen" touches a game, the 28-year-old is likely to have a much smaller workload in 2018 playing behind Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield and Cole Beasley in the slot. If Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is able to create some mismatches with Austin, however, he could rebound from last year's disappointing 317 yards from scrimmage in 16 games, and it's worth noting that Linehan did help Reggie Bush to his last productive season in 2013 with the Lions.
Austin, a former first-round pick, will look to rejuvenate his career in Dallas. The 28-year-old spent his first five seasons with the Rams, but is coming off his least productive one. He tallied just 47 receiving yards on 13 receptions, while also providing 270 yards and a touchdown through the ground on a career high 59 carries. Dallas figures to be an advantageous situation of him, as nothing is set in stone with the receiving depth chart at this point. He will presumably battle with Cole Beasley for reps in the slot, while also potentially seeing some rushing and return opportunities.
It was rumored that Austin would either seek a trade or release at the beginning of the new league year, but the longtime Ram will remain in Los Angeles for at least the immediate future. The 27-year-old saw a major drop in pass-catching production in Sean McVay's offense last season, recording 13 receptions for 47 yards. However, Austin did see a career-high 59 rushing attempts for 270 yards and one score.
Austin has come nowhere near his No. 8 overall status from 2013, never posting more than 509 receiving yards in five NFL seasons while typically being used more as a gadget-play guy or big-play specialist. Although the Rams finally put together an exciting offense in 2017, Austin was even less a focal point, totaling an ugly 47 receiving yards to go with 270 rushing yards while suiting up in all 16 games. It appears his time with the Rams may be done.
|2013||St. Louis Rams||13||3||9||151||16.8||65||1||2||3|
|2014||St. Louis Rams||15||8||36||224||6.2||19||2||0||11|
|2015||St. Louis Rams||16||15||52||434||8.3||60||4||6||23|
|2017||Los Angeles Rams||16||9||59||270||4.6||27||1||2||9|
|2013||St. Louis Rams||13||3||40||418||10.5||81||4||5||2||17|
|2014||St. Louis Rams||15||8||31||242||7.8||28||0||2||0||12|
|2015||St. Louis Rams||16||15||52||473||9.1||66||5||5||2||21|
|2017||Los Angeles Rams||16||9||13||47||3.6||13||0||0||0||2|
|2013||St. Louis Rams||13||3||1||0||0.0||0||0.00||0||0||0||0/0||0||0||39.6|
|2014||St. Louis Rams||15||8||0||0||---||0||---||0||0||0||0/0||0||0||---|
|2015||St. Louis Rams||16||15||0||0||---||0||---||0||0||0||0/0||0||0||---|
|2017||Los Angeles Rams||16||9||0||0||---||0||---||0||0||0||0/0||0||0||---|
|2013||St. Louis Rams||13||18||398||22.1||32||0||0|
|2014||St. Louis Rams||15||2||19||9.5||11||0||0|
|2015||St. Louis Rams||16||3||16||5.3||7||0||0|
|2017||Los Angeles Rams||16||1||13||13.0||13||0||0|
|2013||St. Louis Rams||13||33||11||280||8.5||98||1||4|
|2014||St. Louis Rams||15||35||23||391||11.2||78||1||6|
|2015||St. Louis Rams||16||34||15||268||7.9||75||1||4|
|2017||Los Angeles Rams||16||12||1||53||4.4||12||0||0|
|2013||St. Louis Rams||13||1||1.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2014||St. Louis Rams||15||1||1.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2015||St. Louis Rams||16||1||1.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2017||Los Angeles Rams||16||1||1.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2013||St. Louis Rams||13||4||1||0||2||0||0||2||0|
|2014||St. Louis Rams||15||5||0||0||4||0||0||4||0|
|2015||St. Louis Rams||16||3||2||0||1||0||0||1||0|
|2017||Los Angeles Rams||16||5||4||0||2||0||0||2||0|