DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer
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With Trust Of Coaches, Harris Ready For Increased Role
IRVING, Texas – Dwayne Harris the punt returner is turning into Dwayne Harris the heavily targeted receiver.
It took a 78-yard punt return touchdown against the Eagles in Philadelphia for Harris to start earning time at receiver, recording his first career catch a week later against Cleveland. Four weeks after his special teams touchdown, he finished as the second-most targeted receiver during the Cowboys’ victory in Cincinnati, with eight throws going his way.
Harris said it’s strange to think a punt return might have catapulted him up the receiving depth chart, but he’s been ready for a chance at receiver all season. With Dez Bryant’s health a concern and Harris’ apparent rise in the offensive game plan, he could be in line for more work this week.
“You prepare every week like you’re going to be a starter,” Harris said. “That’s how Coach (Jason Garrett) likes to look at it, no matter when your number might be called. We don’t know if Dez can go or not, but he just said prepare every week like you’re going to start. So that’s how preparation’s going.”
It’s a situation Harris never thought he’d find himself in this quickly after fighting for a roster spot in training camp.
“If you would have asked me this at the beginning of the season, of course I’d never say I’d be in the position I am now, especially with the time I’m getting,” Harris said. “We’ve got good receivers, Miles (Austin), Dez, those guys do their jobs very well. Just as a backup receiver or the third or fourth receiver, you’ve just got to prepare every week like you’re going to be the starter. You never know. With Miles, he’s been hurt in the past with his hamstring, and Dez, he’s been a guy who’s fighting injuries all season. You never know when your chance is going to come up again.”
Garrett said it’ll be a committee system to fill the receiver spots if Bryant can’t go Sunday. If last weekend is any indication, much of that work will go to Harris. Bryant and Kevin Ogletree combined for only one more target against the Bengals than Harris, who said it’s evident the coaches trust him on the field.
“They wouldn’t put me out there if they didn’t,” Harris said. “They want to put someone out there who’s going to make plays and be accountable to do their job.”
After going without a catch through 10 weeks of the season, Harris has now compiled 11 catches for 135 yards in the last four weeks. He’ll continue to prepare the same way he has in recent weeks, regardless if Bryant is ready or not.
“We just go out and play,” Harris said. “We’ve got guys who are going to step in.”