Miles Austin could return this week

Updated: November 29, 2011, 12:15 PM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he anticipates Miles Austin will play Sunday after missing three games with a strained right hamstring, although Jones added that the team would exercise caution with its No. 1 receiver.

"I do, yes," Jones said during his Tuesday appearance on KRLD-FM when asked if he expected Austin to play against the Arizona Cardinals. "But I don't know. I saw him yesterday and he was moving around real well. (Austin) said he could go Sunday, but we'll see how this week goes along.

"We don't want to push that, because we've got a lot of football ahead of us. By the same token, we could use him. We've missed him."

Austin, who played in the last two Pro Bowls, has missed a total of five games with hamstring injuries this season. The Cowboys, who lead the NFC East with a 7-4 record, are 4-1 without him.

Austin originally strained his left hamstring during training camp and aggravated that injury late in the Cowboys' Week 2 win over the San Francisco 49ers, when he caught nine passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns. He strained his right hamstring after catching a 37-yard pass in a Nov. 6 win against the Seattle Seahawks and has not practiced since, working on the side during Monday's no-pads practice.

Fifth-year veteran Laurent Robinson has done a remarkable job filling Austin's shoes -- he has two of the Cowboys' wide receiver corps' three 100-yard games and an NFL-high seven touchdown catches in the last five games. Robinson has five touchdowns in the three wins Austin has missed with this hamstring injury.

Tony Romo has a chance to break his own franchise records for passing yards and touchdowns in a season despite minimal contributions since Week 2 from Austin, who has 28 catches for 403 yards and four touchdowns this season.

Perennial Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten leads the Cowboys with 56 catches for 719 yards and has scored five touchdowns. Second-year receiver Dez Bryant has 38 catches for 620 yards and six scores. Robinson has 38 catches for 554 yards and seven touchdowns.

"When (Austin) comes back, it's going to add another weapon out there," Robinson said last week. "He's a great Pro Bowl player. He's very dynamic, makes a lot of plays. Shoot, when he comes back, there's going to be a lot of weapons out there, so we're excited."

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.

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