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Dwayne Harris: The Next Breakout Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver?

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Dwayne Harris was just another small school afterthought because he did not have that standout quality NFL teams usually want to see out of players who have not had the opportunity against great competition. He wasn’t blazing fast, a size mismatch and not overly impressive athletically. He was a good player without the game tape to warrant starter consideration. He’s gone the route of most of those types, starting on special teams and having to earn his role in the offseason. He opened eyes this offseason.

The Dallas Cowboys surprisingly decided not to bring in a replacement for Laurent Robinson this offseason. Many speculated it was a salary cap issue, but if it were really that big of a concern, the Cowboys would have done something to ensure a veteran Plan B. They wanted their young guys to battle and see if one of them would emerge as their No. 3 wide receiver/insurance policy going forward.  If no one did, re-evaluate come February 2013.

While Kevin Ogletree was the early-season beneficiary, it was Harris that opened eyes during camp. Glowing reports streamed in from Cowboys sources, and Harris made their word look good by blowing up the St. Louis Rams for three catches and 118 yards with Tony Romo under center against the Rams’ first string. Harris’ August performances made it easy for the Cowboys to make room for him on the 53-man roster as they began to think of ways to get him involved in the offense.

Like his rookie season, Harris has spent most of this season on special teams, but as the season went on and the others showed they were not up to the task, the coaching staff began giving Harris a longer look. His snap count has steadily grown since the first game against Philadelphia, and he has clearly emerged as the No. 3 wide receiver as evident by how much more play he’s gotten in the last three games.

The targets have come in too – he’s seen 16 targets in the last three games and turned them into eight catches for 115 yards. If Dez Bryant were to miss any time, Harris would be the beneficiary outside with Ogletree moving into the slot. His part time role (36 snaps against Cincinnati) would likely extend to 60-plus and include more red zone looks, too.

Harris is still an unfinished project, but the Cowboys look to have their No. 3 wide receiver issue resolved going forward. Harris is still developing as a wide receiver and will also be used on offense similarly to the way guys like Randall Cobb, Antonio Brown and Andrew Hawkins are utilized; get them the ball in space near the line of scrimmage and tell them to treat it like a punt or a kick return. He’s more of a dynasty play than anything, a very interesting one at that, but, if Bryant has a setback this weekend, Harris becomes an interesting WR3/flex play championship week. There’s dead weight on your roster somewhere, so stash away!