FRISCO, Texas – It's surprising to hear, given how good he is at it, but Dax Swanson hadn't returned a punt in almost a decade.
Swanson certainly wasn't planning on doing it for the Cowboys, either – up until he had a conversation with special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia during the Aug. 13 preseason game against the Rams.
"I was on the sideline in the first or second quarter – just randomly. It was Bisaccia," Swanson said. "He was just like -- the offense was up, and he walked past me like 'Can you return kicks?'
"I was like 'Yeah,' and he was like 'Why didn't you tell me?' and I was like 'I don't know, I just haven't been back there in so long.'"
Swanson last handled that duty in 2008 as a senior at La Vega High School in Waco, Texas. But looking at him in two preseason games, you'd have no idea he took an eight-year hiatus.
Against Miami on Aug. 19, he had a winding, 27-yard return through the heart of the Dolphins defense. Last Thursday against the Seahawks, he averaged seven yards per return on three attempts – though he had a 67-yard touchdown return nullified by an unnecessary penalty.
It's a good bet Swanon will have a few more opportunities this Thursday against Houston, as he seeks to prove his versatility ahead of final roster cuts.
"It's a big confidence thing for me, just knowing that putting me in a different position and me being able to execute – trying to do as much as I can and be a guy they can put in different spots and depend on," he said.
-- David Helman