Cowboys To Get 'Lucky' In Chargers Opener?
The Dallas Cowboys aren't going to lose Dwayne Harris in free agency to the rival Giants and not feel the impact. No, this has nothing to do with Harris' assertion that New York's practices are "more professional,'' or whatever; he's supposed to say positive things about his employer. This is about how professional Harris was in his time in Dallas, as more than just a return-specialist. Harris was also a key presence on the special-team's coverage unit, as well as a reliable blocker in the run game. So, this leads to the question, how will the Cowboys replace Harris - a player who did it all?
One person who believes that replacement piece is a UDFA receiver out of Florida Atlantic University named "Lucky Whitehead'' is ... Lucky Whitehead.
"I'm hard-working,'' Lucky tells CHQ in a one-on-one visit. "I'm very tough. I like to compete. I'm a very exciting player to watch. If I get the opportunities, there will be great things happening in the return game this season."
Those opportunities come Thursday, with Whitehead listed as the first-team punt returner and first-team kick returner. And with Dez Bryant sidelined and Lucky getting work in camp at multiple receiver spots, he's in the mix there against the Chargers, too.
How do Harris and Whitehead compare physically and athletically? Let's take a look:
Weight: 208 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.55 seconds
Bench Press: 10 reps
Vertical Jump: 34 inches
Broad Jump: 110 inches
3-Cone Drill: 6.77 seconds
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.21 seconds
Weight: 179 lbs.
40-yard dash: 4.39 seconds
Bench Press: 20 reps
Vertical Jump: 36 inches
Broad Jump: 121 inches
3-Cone Drill: 6.89 seconds
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.18 seconds
Whitehead is an inch shorter than Harris and about 30 pounds lighter. He is, in short, a waterbug. However, Whitehead is very strong for his size, recording 10 more bench press reps than Harris in Scouting Combine stuff. He also performed better than Harris in every area other than the 3-cone drill.
Now let's compare their college stats.
*Dwayne Harris averaged 23.3 yards per kick return in college. Lucky Whitehead averaged 24 yards per kickoff return.
*Dwayne Harris averaged 9.4 yards per punt return in college. Lucky Whitehead averaged 15.6 yards per punt return.
*Dwayne Harris averaged 11.2 yards per reception. Lucky Whitehead averaged 10.5 yards per reception.
*Dwayne Harris averaged 6.5 yards per rushing attempt in college. Lucky Whitehead averaged 9.6 yards per rushing attempt.
Another thing that Harris did for the Cowboys was provide key blocks in the run game and cover kicks/punts. While those aren't areas that Whitehead has much experience in, he feels like he could still get the job done.
"I haven't done much of kickoff coverage," Whitehead tells us. "I'm not the biggest guy but I've got heart."
The thing that sticks out most about Whitehead is his ability as a returner. The Cowboys have certainly taken notice as well. In the team's annual conference call for season-ticket holders that took place right after the draft, COO Stephen Jones mentioned Whitehead when asked about who could be the return-specialist in 2015. This is what Jones said about him: "Lucky Whitehead is a smaller receiver but he can fly. He runs in the 4.3 range, he's got return-ability. He's an exciting guy to watch when you plug in his highlight tape and look at him."
And owner Jerry Jones last week, when asked for a standout camp name, blurted out "Lucky Whitehead,'' too.
Now, there are other people here competing for the same spot. Reggie Dunn may be the fastest guy on the roster. Antwan Goodley, George Farmer, Deontay Greenberry and Nick Harwell are among the possibly worthy. Stephen, on 105.3 The Fan last month, noted that there are no locks here.
“I think you got to look at receiver,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t say we’re concerned, I’m just saying that you’re looking for some guys to show up and do something. You lose a player like Dwayne Harris and you don’t replace him in free agency, and you don’t ultimately take a receiver in the draft, we haven’t necessarily designated a guy, ‘Hey, you’re gonna be the roster spot for Dwayne Harris.’
“So it will be very competitive for that fifth spot. If he’s on our team, that’s great. If it ends up being that we continue to look for a guy, then that’s an option as well. Player acquisition, as I always say, is a 365-day a year business and we’ll keep looking for ways to improve our football team.”
But Whitehead may be that way. Danny McCray will help replace Harris in other areas on Teams. And Cole Beasley obviously owns the slot position on offense (though it's fun watching Whitehead do what Fish calls "Percy Harvin-type things'' on offense). This will be a game in which the Dallas "stars'' won't be a factor. Fish reports on 105.3 The Fan that on Tuesday, when the Cowboys ran plays against the simulted Chargers D, Romo, Witten, Randle, Tyron, Free and Dez all remained sidelined.
All of which might just give Lucky Whitehead more room to "excite.''