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Dwayne Harris ignites Giants with touchdown returns

harris-center-121015.jpg

Dwayne Harris has done something this season no Giant had done in six decades.


NEWS
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The ex-Cowboy, who signed with Big Blue as a free agent this offseason, scored on an 80-yard punt return last week against the Jets. He also had a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown vs. Dallas in Week 7, making him just the third player in Giants history with kickoff and punt return touchdowns in the same season and the first to do so since Jimmy Patton in 1955. Pro Football Hall of Famer Emlen Tunnell also accomplished the feat in 1951.

"It's not about me," Harris said today after practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. "It's the guys up front who open up lanes for me. I'm just the guy running with the ball and making a couple people miss and that's what I do. But it starts with the guys up front. When they believe in me, it helps this whole team [achieve] a special teams goal."

While it had been exactly six years since the Giants' last punt return touchdown by Domenik Hixon on Dec. 6, 2009, it was Harris' fourth return touchdown of his career.  

"You never know when you're going to get the chance to return a kick," said Harris, who also has four receiving touchdowns after having just three in his first four NFL seasons. "So you make every one count when you get the opportunity."

Field position will be up for grabs this week on "Monday Night Football" in Miami. Both the Giants and Dolphins rank in the top 10 in punt return average and are two of the 11 teams who have scored on a punt return in 2015.

Miami's second-year wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who is ALSO on pace for 100 catches and 1,000 yards, scored on a 69-yard punt return in the season opener against Washington. He averages 9.3 yards per return and has three of 20 yards or longer.

"There are a lot of plusses on both sides, obviously," coach Tom Coughlin said.

"We need to see what we saw the other day from our team and we need to continue to have field position based on our special teams. It was good to see that."

The game-changers were just one of the many topics surrounding the Giants on Thursday as they prepare for the primetime matchup with the Dolphins. Here are three takeaways from the day:

1. DIVISION RACE HAS COUGHLIN DOING JUMPING JACKS

In the middle of a three-game skid, the Giants' emotions were lifted when Dallas knocked off Washington in the final game of Week 13 to force a three-way tie atop the NFC East. One of those teams is Big Blue, and Coughlin was asked today what effect Monday night's result had inside the building. He responded by doing jumping jacks.

"Jumping jacks for every meeting like that, that's for sure," Coughlin said. "No, it's exciting. Let's face it, it is exciting. I've said it many times before, we have to take care of our own business, but to be in a circumstance where we're in the hunt is a good and exciting thing. And I think the players realize that."

A 69-year-old head coach will do that to a player.

"I've seen the jumping jacks, yeah," quarterback Eli Manning said. "They're impressive. They're very impressive. I've seen the jumping jacks a few times."

Added defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins: "Yeah, he's saying 'get the energy going, we're still in this, we're still tied for the lead, let's go.'"

2. INJURY REPORT

For the Giants, LT Ereck Flowers (ankle) and LB Devon Kennard (foot/hamstring) did not participate in practice. S Brandon Meriweather (knee) and RT Marshall Newhouse (back) were limited.

For the Dolphins, OT Branden Albert (not injury related), OT Ja'Wuan James (toe), WR Rishard Matthews (ribs) and C Mike Pouncey (foot) did not practice. LB Jelani Jenkins (ankle), DT Earl Mitchell (calf) and WR Kenny Stills (ankle) were limited. LS John Denny (neck) and DT Jordan Phillips (shoulder) were full-go.

3. GIANTS WORK IN NEW LONG SNAPPER

Even punter Brad Wing was surprised to see a group of reporters huddled around a long snapper today. But that's because the Giants have a new one in Danny Aiken after two-time Super Bowl champion Zak DeOssie, who had never missed a game in his previous eight years, was placed on injured reserve with a wrist injury. Aiken was a Patriot from 2011-2014, playing in 63 regular-season games and 10 postseason contests, including two Super Bowls. One was against the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.

"Well, we've had Dan Aiken for a couple of days and he's worked in pads and snapped the ball and done those types of things on Wednesday," Coughlin said. "He's a veteran, he's played in 63 games, and obviously it'll be something that the opponent will be most interested in, but he's a big guy and hopefully he'll be able to hold up in there."

Photos from Giants Practice on December 10th as the team preps for Miami

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