Dwayne Harris taking over No. 3 WR role

April, 8, 2013
4/08/13
4:45
PM ET
Toward the end of the 2012 season, wide receiver Dwayne Harris moved up the depth chart and was taking valuable snaps from Kevin Ogletree.

When the Cowboys let Ogletree go in free agency -- he signed with Tampa Bay -- it moved Harris into the coveted role as No. 3 receiver behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.

"Dwayne did a really good job really growing throughout last season," coach Jason Garrett said recently. "(He's) a guy that we really liked coming out of the draft. We drafted him I think in the fifth or sixth round a couple years ago, and we saw him as a role player, a guy that we wanted to grow in that fifth receiver spot. Started to develop a role on special teams as a returner, was a guy who was always very steady with the ball in his hands as a returner, but then he showed us as the season wore on that he could make some game-changing plays as a returner. He got some more opportunities on offense and took advantage of those, and like a lot of guys he really has grown up over the course of his couple years in the league."

When the season ended, Harris had 17 catches for 222 yards and one touchdown. Harris' ability as a returner was more valuable. He averaged 16.1 yards a return on punts and became a stabilizing force after Bryant's issues in the return game.

The Cowboys have a young receiving corps for the second consecutive seasons. Not one receiver is over 30 -- Austin will be 29 in June -- and that bodes well for the future of this position. The Cowboys don't have to worry about upgrading it because of what Bryant and Austin have done in the past and because of Harris' potential.

"Sometimes guys come in and they want to be good but they don’t kind of know what they need to do on a daily basis to get better," Garrett said. "I think he’s understood that over the last couple years. He was on and off our roster for a little bit, if you remember, and I think a couple of those experiences helped in his response to say, 'Hey, I’ve got to bear down, I’ve got to start practicing better on a more consistent basis.' I think when he started doing that, he started getting better and really being able to tap into his potential."

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