In a season where we witnessed several players who did not progress as we and the team had anticipated, it is important that we do take a moment to recognize a player who did respond to the coaching that he recieved. Arriving in Dallas just in time for the 2011 lockout, Dwayne Harris entered his rookie year with a very limited offseason to learn his new role in the Dallas Cowboys offense. The sixth round draft pick out of East Carolina spent the majority of his first professional season as a member of the team's practice squad. Due to the progress he made, and thanks to at least one other franchise showing interest in the young wide reciever Harris found himself signed back to the active roster shortly before the end of the season.
Over the off season between his rookie and second years, Dwayne Harris committed himself to improving his chances at having a solid NFL career. Working on a developmental plan designed by strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicek,the young man made great efforts at improving his 5'10" frame without adding the bulk that would have a negative impact on his speed and quickness. According to a comment made to Todd Archer of ESPNDallas at the beginning of training camp, Jason Garrett was highly impressed with the significant improvements that Harris had made over the offseason. Most notable was that Harris had managed to increase his strength and maintain his speed at the same time, thus avoiding an issue that have plagued other guys, such as Skylar Greene. In his recent post over at the mothership, Bryan Broaddus also commented at the impressive change that Harris had undergone under Woicek's guidence.
For his on the field development, Harris worked with perhaps the best position coach in the league, wide recievers coach Jimmy Robinson. Coming out of college Harris had a reputation for being a hard worker who was committed to spending the time necessary to develop his craft. He was the ideal pupil for a disciplinarian and detail-oriented coach like Robinson. Under the coach's watchful eye, Harris spent many hours working on all the little things that make the difference between success and failure at the game's highest level. In addition to the time spend learning the Dallas playbook, Harris and Robinson spent time working on perfecting Dwayne's hands through countless balls thrown from both the Juggs machine and live balls from the quarterbacks. Although he was considered to be a polished route runner out of East Carolina, they worked on making his routes more crisp and precise. By the end of camp, Jimmy Robinson commented that although Kevin Ogletree had won the third reciever battle, the only thing Harris needed was to become more consistant in his performance. Based on what we witnessed over the second half of the season, Dwayne has started to develop that consistancy. He has started to develop a good working relationship with his quarterback Tony Romo. In fact, Tony went so far as to tell NBC's Andrea Kramer that he knew that Harris would be where he was supposed to be on any given play, and that he knew that he could count on him to make the play. High praise indeed for a guy who spends most of his time throwing to guys like Jason Witten, who he has always relied upon in the clutch. In his post at dallascowboys.com Broaddus also remarked about the confidence that Romo and the staff have shown in Dwayne Harris and his development. From my perspective I think that the Cowboys now have the guy they have been looking for to make plays when the top guys are covered, but only time will tell for sure.