The Dwayne Harris experiment may be over in Chicago. The Bears have added former Houston Texans wide receiver and return specialist DeAndre Carter, who they claimed off waivers Wednesday. After losing play-making running back and All-Pro punt returner Tarik Cohen for the season Week 3, Chicago has struggled to get anything going in the punt return game.
The Bears added former Giants Pro Bowl returner Dwayne Harris late last month, but after muffing a punt in Chicago’s ugly Week 10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, it’s looking like Harris’ days are now numbered in the Windy City. Harris has played in the last three games for the Bears, averaging 8.1 yards per return. Harris also tore his triceps in the loss, so he’s likely done with the Bears.
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DeAndre Carter Has Played With Eagles, Texans
Carter went undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft, and was signed by the Baltimore Ravens heading into the 2015 season. The Ravens wound up releasing him, however, and he wound up spending the bulk of his rookie year with the Raiders on their practice squad. He bounced around a bit after that, spending time with the Patriots and 49ers’ practice squads in the 2016-2017 seasons.
He saw his first action in 2018, when he made the Philadelphia Eagles’ 53-man roster. Carter played in seven games for Philly, starting one. He was waived by the Eagles that season, and Houston promptly picked him up. He played in 32 games for the Texans over the last two seasons, starting six.
Over his career, Carter has returned both kickoffs and punts, averaging 9.5 yards per punt return and 21.8 yards per kickoff return. As a receiver, he has hauled in 34 passes for 386 yards and no touchdowns. He also has no touchdowns as a returner.
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Bears Are Sacrificing Experience if They Release Harris in Favor of Carter, But They Have No Choice
One glaring issue with Carter? He has eight fumbles in his two and a half seasons, so if Harris’ error against Minnesota was that huge of a problem, the Bears might be faced with a similar issue with Carter moving forward. Harris is a 10-year veteran, and he made a decent impression in his first two games with the Bears. The muffed punt was unfortunate, but his injury may be the determining factor here.
“For me, I’ve been doing this for over 15 years, catching punts, so for me, it’s a comfort level. I’m very confident in me catching every punt,” Harris said. “I’m confident in my ability to catch punts. A lot of guys are nervous, I’m never nervous catching punts because I’ve been doing it for so long and taking hits is just part of the game. For me, it’s just always been a comfort level.”
After tearing his triceps, Harris may not have much longer to find that comfort zone, unfortunately.