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Redskins well aware of Dwayne Harris’s punt-return skills

(Associated Press)

The pivotal plays of monumental games so often come from special teams, and the Washington Redskins are aware the Dallas Cowboys present a significant threat in that area with their punt return game.

“It’s very important this week,” said tight end Niles Paul, a gunner on the Redskins’ punt team. “Because Dwayne Harris is incredible.”

Harris, the Cowboys’ returner, ranks fourth in the NFL in punt returns, averaging 14.53 yards. In Week 9 against Philadelphia, Harris took a punt back 78 yards for a touchdown.

“He’s like Josh Cribbs,” Paul said, referring to the Cleveland Browns standout. “He just hits the hole, and he’s extremely strong. The guy has big legs, and he’s strong as hell. He’s hard to tackle. He’s aggressive. You got to love his running style.”

The Redskins consider Harris to have elite speed and power for a returner, but average quickness. They want to close off his running lanes and make him struggle to find a hole before gaining momentum. On Thanksgiving, it worked – the Redskins held Harris to 17 yards on three returns.

“Just staying true to our responsibilities, not trying to do too much,” Redskins long snapper Nick Sundberg said. “We have to have faith in each other that we’re going to go out there and do our jobs. Just get pressure on him early. Be in his face, make him change directions.”