WR Austin, FB Fiammetta return, could spur Cowboys

At its best, the Dallas Cowboys' offense can do whatever the defense dares them to do.
Want to pack the secondary and take away Tony Romo's favorite
receivers? Then DeMarco Murray will ram through a thinned front
Want to slow Murray and pack that front line? Then Romo will
take aim at a weakened secondary.
Every team tries doing the same thing, of course, but the
Cowboys feel they are among the few teams that have the talent to
pull it off. And those chances seem to be improving just in time
for their Sunday night game against the New York Giants, which also
is a showdown for first place in the NFC East.
Star receiver Miles Austin and battering-ram fullback Tony
Fiammetta returned to practice Wednesday and are expected to play
Sunday. Austin has missed the last four games with a hamstring
injury, and Fiammetta the last three with an undisclosed illness.
"We're encouraged to see them back out there playing
football," coach Jason Garrett said.
The Cowboys went 2-1 in the three games those guys missed. But
the two wins came on game-ending field goals, and the loss was in
overtime after missing a potential game-winning field goal.
Maybe having Austin and Fiammetta back will revive the offense
enough to avoid another tense finish.
"We feel like we have a rejuvenated offense," said Laurent
Robinson, who has emerged as the team's top-scoring receiver in
Austin's absence. "We're excited about this week and the challenge
ahead of us."
Austin, a 1,000-yard receiver each of the last two seasons, was
slowed earlier this season by an injury to his left hamstring. He
missed two games, played two, then hurt his right hamstring on Nov.
The passing attack has been propped up by Robinson, Dez Bryant
and tight end Jason Witten. Things should only get better for
everyone with Austin out there, too.
"Miles is a Pro Bowl receiver and a very versatile guy,"
Garrett said. "He can make plays down the field, he can make plays
on shorter catches - break catches and beat you that way. He's also
a very good blocker at the receiver position. So I think whenever
you have a guy like that out there, teams know about him and will
decide to do something to him or not. Guys like that give you an
opportunity to open up other parts of your offense."
How important is Fiammetta?
Look at the numbers. Murray's numbers.
In the four games that he ran behind holes opened by Fiammetta,
Murray averaged 150 yards. In the last three games, all without
Fiammetta, Murray had a total of 198 yards, an average of 66 per
"He's done a nice job for us in the time he was in the
lineup," Garrett said. "We're excited about the possibility of
getting him back."
The Cowboys (7-5) could have been playing to wrap up the
division title had they not blown their last game.
Now they're facing these stakes: Win and take a two-game lead
with three to play, or lose and fall into a tie for first, with the
tiebreaker favoring the Giants (6-6).
Either way, the teams meet again in two weeks.
New York comes in on a four-game losing streak, but having
narrowly lost to the unbeaten Packers in its last game. Plus, the
Giants could be on an emotional uptick akin to the Cowboys' lift
from the return of Austin and Fiammetta, with New York buoyed by
the return of running back Ahmad Bradshaw and the reopened division
"It's going to make for good television, I'm sure," Romo said.

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