At the beginning of last season, Dez Bryant was the punt returner for the Dallas Cowboys and the choice seemed obvious. Bryant had returned two punts for touchdowns as rookie and has the explosiveness needed for the job. He also had the fearlessness that returning punts requires.
However, after being injured on his opening return against the New York Jets last year, the Cowboys wanted to make sure they kept Bryant healthy, which meant taking him off full-time return duty. Thanks to a couple of bad decisions on returns this season, he’s only done the job sparingly but he is still capable of breaking a big return like he did against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3.
The Cowboys decided they had seen enough from Bryant as a punt returner and went with Dwayne Harris instead and the results have been very good. Harris is averaging 17.8 yards per return and has scored a touchdown on 10 returns this season. He broke a long return in Atlanta that led to points, gave the Cowboys the lead for good when he scored last week against the Philadelphia Eagles and his return yesterday in overtime helped lead the Cowboys to victory.
Harris seems to have a knack for seeing the hole and wasting no time in hitting it, unlike Dez Bryant who seemed to take too long to make up his mind where he wanted to go. Harris looks like he has a good feel for the job and I don’t see the Cowboys taking him off those duties anytime soon.
Former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells used to talk about hidden yardage all the time and Harris has been getting the Cowboys extra yards in the return game than Bryant did not. Those yards have led directly to points and in each of the last two games they’ve led directly to winning games.
Playing winning football takes all three phases of the game and Dwayne Harris has become quite the weapon for the Cowboys, because of him they’re winning on special teams.
Dallas has found a good punt returner to help win the field position battle, now about those kick0ff returns.
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