EAST RUTHERFORD. N.J. – Dwayne Harris got a phone call last week from Lance Dunbar, his former Dallas teammate who is still with the Cowboys.
"He said he was going to have more special teams tackles than me," Harris said today.
That's quite a prediction by Dunbar, considering when the two players were teammates last year, Harris led the Cowboys with 12 special teams tackles and Dunbar chipped in with … one.
"He already knows who's going to win that battle," Harris said. "He's going to have no special teams tackles."
After four years in Dallas, Harris has jumped to the other side of the Giants-Cowboys rivalry. He joined the Giants as a free agent on March 11. Harris expects the same intensity he's always experienced when the two teams play the 2015 season opener Sunday night in AT&T Stadium.
"I'm pretty sure it's probably the same," Harris said. "Going into both games, I think everybody is anticipating this game on both sides, and I think the hype for this game is definitely building the closer you get to this game. I know in Dallas, we definitely take that first game against the Giants very seriously. I'm pretty sure we're doing the same thing here. I think that rivalry is definitely a builder for the first game."
Harris is expected to be the Giants' primary punt and kickoff returner, and a gunner this season. He is officially listed as a wide receiver, though he caught just seven passes in 2014 and 33 in four seasons with the Cowboys.
"Like I've said before, in Dallas they really didn't have to use me unless I came in to block," Harris said. "But we had playmakers. You had Cole Beasley, you had Tony (Romo), you had Wit (Jason Witten), you got Dez (Bryant), you got Terrance (Williams).
"And the same thing goes for here. You've still got a lot of playmakers. You got Odell (Beckham Jr.), you got (Rueben) Randle, you got Preston (Parker), and when Victor (Cruz) gets back healthy, you got Victor. So my role on this team is whenever somebody goes or whenever they need me to go in, I'm here."
His most important role will likely be on returns, where the Giants have long sought improvement.
"I can return against anybody," Harris said. "I think the one thing we're really stressing right now is the guys up front, they just have to trust in me and I have to trust in them. That's part of the whole game, the trust factor. They've got to trust in me to go out and do their job, and me to do my own job."
Including piling up those special teams tackles.
- Wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf) was the only Giants player to sit out practice today. Three players were limited: linebackers Jon Beason (knee) and Jonathan Casillas (neck), and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (hamstring).
Jenkins said he "did a lot more than I thought I would," including reps in the team periods of practice.
- Dallas quarterback Tony Romo did not practice, but that's been his Wednesday custom since the beginning of last season.
Playmakers on Cowboys first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike
On a conference call today, Dallas coach Jason Garrett was asked about his Giants counterpart, Tom Coughlin.
"He's just one of the great coaches ever in the National Football League. It's as simple as that," Garrett said. "His track record speaks for itself. We've had great opportunities through the years to compete against his teams and they're always really well coached. We just have an immense amount of respect for him and his football teams."
- The Giants today filled the opening on their 53-man roster by re-signing defensive tackle Louis Nix, who they waived yesterday. Nix was acquired off waivers Sunday from the Houston Texans.
A third-round draft choice last year by Houston, Nix did not play in a regular-season game in 2014. He was inactive for the first three games before going on injured reserve with a knee injury.
Nix, 6-2 and 331 pounds, started 30 of 34 games at nose guard, recording 123 tackles (44 solo), 2.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss and 18 quarterback pressures at Notre Dame.
Photos of DT Louis Nix's career with the Texans