As reported by Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas on Thursday, Dallas Cowboys No. 2 receiver Miles Austin has been practicing catching punts in practice and by all accounts has done well.
But no matter how good he is, the team should not have him returning punts in game action this season.
Sure, there have been marquee NFL starters who have returned kicks and punts in their day – Deion Sanders comes to mind, as does Tim Brown, who made the Pro Bowl as both a wide receiver and return man during his career – but the Cowboys would be taking a risk having Austin field punts. It’s a risk that they just don’t need to take. The Cowboys had Dez Bryant returning punts in his rookie season, but surely they would see that as too much of a risk no, and they should feel the same way with Austin.
For one, Dwayne Harris – their current returner – is a pretty good. Last season, he averaged 16.1 yards per return on both kicks and punts, with one touchdown.
And for another, Austin has been injury prone throughout his career. Over his six seasons, he has missed 10 regular season games but has also battled through injuries to stay on the field. The last three seasons, he’s endured hamstring, hip and knee injuries.
Cowboys’ special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia says that he’s open to all options regarding punt and kick returns as long as it helps the team.
If the Cowboys were to do that, they would be walking on thin ice.
It could end up hurting rather than helping, and that’s why they shouldn’t do it.
Jake Carapella is a Dallas Cowboys writer for RantSports. Follow him on twitter @JKCSports1.