RISING STAR: Dwayne Harris emerging as a playmaker on special teams and offense

Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Will Allen (26) brings down Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys punt returner Dwayne Harris has made major contributions since taking over that role from Dez Bryant on Nov. 4 against Atlanta. Heading into Sunday’s game against New Orleans, Harris has averaged 13.9 yards per return, including a 78-yarder for a touchdown against Philadelphia and three additional efforts of 20 or more yards against Cleveland (20), Atlanta (37) and Pittsburgh (39).

Harris always knew he would be a success once he got his chance. It was convincing the Cowboys that was the harder part. A sixth-round draft choice in 2011, Harris was released during his rookie season. He later was re-signed to the active roster from the practice squad. Harris played in seven games last season with 15 punt returns and eight kickoff returns and no real impact other than a 51-yard kickoff return against the Eagles on Dec. 24.

“Whatever they need me to do, I think I can be a great player for this team and in this league. The sky’s the limit,” Harris said Friday. “I’ve always got … that chip on your shoulder to go out there and play your best. I let my game speak for itself. The doubters, they’ll go away.”

Harris also has 15 receptions _ 15 more than last season _ and is coming off a four-catch, 46-yard performance in last week’s 27-24 overtime victory over Pittsburgh. Three of his four grabs against the Steelers came on second-half touchdown drives, including a pair of pivotal receptions on bubble screens: an 18-yarder on a second-and-23 play to extend one scoring drive, as well a 17-yarder in the Steelers’ red zone that set up a 3-yard touchdown run by DeMarco Murray.

“He’s really grown a lot as a player,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s made some splash plays. But you don’t want to be a flash player. You want to be a guy that’s a consistent player. I think he’s shown that over the last half of this season.”

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