When the Bears signed veteran Dwayne Harris to the practice squad late Monday, it might have marked the end — or, at least, the beginning of the end — for punt returner Ted Ginn.
In nine seasons — four with the Cowboys, three with the Giants and two with the Raiders — Harris has returned 180 punts for an average of 10.1 yards. In 2018, his average of 14.1 yards over 20 returns led the NFL. He also had a 99-yard touchdown return, his only career punt-game score.
At 33, Harris is exclusively a returner at this point. As a receiver, he’s been targeted only eight times since the end of the 2015 season.
The Bears signed him up for a tryout last week, before Ginn posted one of the most baffling games in recent Bears return history Monday night. Rather than catch the ball, he let punts fall that wound up being downed at the 1, 5 and 6 yard lines. Coach Matt Nagy said Monday there were two balls he should have caught, rather than let drop.
Ginn has returned five punts for 24 yards since taking over for Tarik Cohen. His time as a returner — if not, perhaps, with the team — might be coming to a close.
Asked about Harris last week, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said he’d heard good things.
“Obviously, his reputation — he’s had a good reputation throughout the league,” Tabor said. “Good, tough, physical player. North-south player. He’s a guy that is gonna come in for a tryout and we’ll see where he’s at.”
To make room for Harris, the Bears cut practice-squad defensive lineman Terry Beckner.