As a seventh-round (219th overall) draft pick in 2010, the odds were against
But Austin stuck with it. Even after he was cut on Sept. 4 last year, he signed to the practice squad the next day.
From there, hard work and opportunity got him on to the field late in the season.
“I saw action my last couple games and I think it went pretty well,” Austin told the media on Jan. 4. “I had the opportunity to go out there and make plays. I thought I did pretty well.”
Transitioning from UCLA to the pro game came with a significant learning curve. He had to learn the Redskins’ offense and fine-tune his route-running.
“Obviously it’s still a learning process for me,” Austin said. “I’m definitely going to take the opportunity this offseason to work on some stuff. I know what to expect now and I can be a little bit more comfortable.”
In 2010, Austin appeared in five games and grabbed three receptions for 47 yards and one touchdown. He also returned one kickoff for 15 yards and posted two special teams tackles on kick coverage.
“All three of my catches were for a first down and I think that was really important,” he remarked. “It showed I could make a catch when it needed to be made.”
In 2010 preseason, Austin led the Redskins with 10 catches for 146 yards and one touchdown.
Austin knows that there are parts of his game that he needs to work on in order to take the next step.
“Some assignments I missed, but as far as blocking the right guy, maybe running the route at the right depth – it’ll come with me being out there a little bit more, getting used to it, making the right direction,” he said.
Austin also knows that to earn a roster spot he must embrace a role on special teams. He was a standout kick returner at UCLA.
“All my life, I’ve been returning the football and I never had the opportunity to run down and cover kicks or jam a guy,” he said. “Doing that [with the Redskins [was something new for me. I want to get back to returning kicks, but as long as I’m out there on the field, that’s all that’s important to me.”
This could be a critical training camp for Austin, as he returns to a team with an influx of youth at his position. The Redskins drafted three wide receivers last April.
Austin welcomes the competition. From his perspective, it’s roster or bust.
“I’ve definitely set a goal for myself – I don’t want to be on the practice squad, I want to be on the 53-man roster,” he said. “If that means it’s as a special teams guy, then that’s fine – but I want to be on that roster.
"I’m just going to take this offseason to work out and get better. Hopefully when I come back I can show that I deserve to be here.”