Third year safety and special teams standout Erik Harris had been making a strong impression on his coaches this offseason and in camp. Wednesday that strong showing hit a snag when he left practice with an injured right index finger.
“He had an outstanding offseason,” said Gruden Wednesday. “I mean he made a lot of plays in the box, deep, covering, special teams. Right now he has a chance to be a full-time starter for the Oakland Raiders. That’s what I think of him. Now he hurt his finger. He left practice early today, but he’s doing an excellent job. He has some really good communication skills. He’s playing really good football for us right now.”
Harris returned for Thursday’s practice before, according to a source, it was discovered he had a spiral fracture in his finger that needed surgery. He had that surgery Friday and is expected to miss about a week, which would have him returning for the final few days of camp.
“He’s vital for us right now,” Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia said of Harris. “He’s another guy that we [Cowboys] were playing against last year that we respected and we were worried about . . .
“[R]ight now he’s our personal protector on the punt team and he’s playing in every phase and I know he’s working his butt off on defense and he’s climbing the (depth) chart over there as well. So, he’s vital for us and depending on what his status ends up on defense, will be how much we use him and where we use him. But he’s really had a great camp.”
If/when he does return to camp he will be in a cast, which shouldn’t inhibit his special teams abilities and part of his safety duties (obviously intercepting the ball would be difficult).