“I hope it does,” Austin said following Thursday’s 34-31 loss at Baltimore. “My main thing was always just trying to be consistent this whole preseason. That was one of my main goals. I think that I accomplished that today.”
Austin had five catches for 71 yards and a touchdown to lead all Redskins receivers. He found a way to get open and was key on the third-quarter scoring drive. John Beck found Austin three times for 56 yards on that drive alone, including the 13-yard touchdown strike. Austin was so dialed in, after the game, all the peripheral details about the play were fuzzy.
“I didn’t even know who threw my touchdown pass, to be honest with you,” he said.
Austin’s strong play these past two weeks has made the competition at the receiver position especially interesting. Brandon Banks’s sore knee has kept him out of the each of the past two games. If coaches are choosing between Banks and Austin for the final receiver spot, they have quite the decision on their hands.
Banks is an explosive returner but he’s barely lined up as a receiver in practice this preseason. On the other hand, coaches have praised Austin for his work as a receiver, and he might give the Redskins a more dynamic option there. Austin is also a skilled returner, though Thursday his opportunities were limited: a 1-yard punt return and a fair catch.
Austin knows there are a lot of other players in mix, too.
“There’s a lot of good guys at the wide receiver position,” he said. “They’re veterans, they know what they’re doing. They’ve proven themselves and they got seasons under their belt. I just wanted to capitalize on the opportunity. I’m grateful that I got my opportunity.”
If the third preseason game is the most important, Austin set himself apart. The only other receivers to notch catches Thursday: Santana Moss, Anthony Armstrong, Jabar Gaffney and Leonard Hankerson. Niles Paul was targeted twice and Donte Stallworth once, but neither had a reception against the Ravens.
“I feel real good with the offense,” Austin said. “I feel I got it down pretty well. It’s just all about getting repetitions. I’ve been getting a lot of that in practice. I’ve been succesful with it. I think I know it pretty well now.”
Austin will have one final chance next week to impress coaches when Tampa Bay comes to town for the fourth preseason game. But he’s already done quite a bit in the past two games to make a strong case for himself.
“I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get,” he said. “Whether it’s one play next week or it’s 10, I want to make the best out of it.”