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Kevin Ogletree: Keep This Guy Around

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Here in Texas, there is a buzz growing around the play and promise of undrafted wide receiver, Kevin Ogletree. He sure looks to be the favorite for that last receiver spot. Whether or not the team chooses to keep Isaiah Stanback, they have to make room for Ogletree, right? With his circus catch for a score against Tennessee, his apparent confidence from Tony Romo, and his versatility as a slot guy and backup kick returner, it is hard to imagine him making it through waivers should the Cowboys try to sneak him on the practice squad.

Hopefully, they won't take that risk. He can not be hidden. Even though the team's website lists Mike Jefferson, Julian Hawkins, and Manuel Johnson on the depth chart, but no Ogletree; the buzz is already too loud. I imagine pro scouts have heard it in Houston, maybe even as far north as Kansas City or Denver. New Orleans always likes a bargain wideout or two.

This offseason, the Cowboys' wide receiver position has been scrutinized and criticized by the media. Once analysts are done focusing their question marks on Romo's December woes, they launch onto Roy Williams - almost as if their connection is the team's only chance for success. From the national media's perspective, Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin, and Sam Hurd are just the committee of other wide receivers Dallas will have on its roster. Obviously, we can't expect them to know about Ogletree.

As fans of the team, I think we can all appreciate a little extra optimism regarding the wide receiver position. Ogletree brings that. He may be at the bottom of the roster on opening day, but he would bring with him the consistency he has shown through training camp and preseason. Not a bad way to round out a group that has had problems staying healthy.

Make the jump.

In last year's season opener, all the team had to contribute at the position were Terrell Owens, Crayton, and a banged-up Stanback. While Crayton and Austin should be healthy for the upcoming opener against the Bucs (knock on wood), Williams and Hurd have needed some rest, and Stanback is fighting to stay on the team.

Although it is just preseason, Ogletree is tied for eighth against the rest of the NFC's rookies with five catches for 73 yards, averaging 14.6 per catch. That may not sound too productive, but each of those five catches have gone for first downs. Whether it be for 20 yards or two inches, the Cowboys need first downs. They need receivers who can make first-down grabs.

He hasn't been too shabby on kick returns, either. Currently, he is averaging 28.4 yards on five returns for 142 yards. It would be nice to see him get some more work there against Minnesota this Friday.

Richie Witt of the Dallas Observer says that Ogletree reminds him of Kelvin Martin. I was thinking Kevin Williams, but that #85 jersey may be swaying my perception.

I also think Virginia free-agent receiver Kevin Ogletree is going to make the team and make some positive plays. Kinda reminds me of Kelvin Martin. At this point it's not a stretch to say Dallas' free-agent class is just as productive as its draft class.

The coaches have liked what they've seen from him from the get-go.

"He runs good routes," said Wade Phillips, head coach. "The guy has got a lot of good things going for him, and he has been consistent with it. We said it (at) OTAs, 'This guy, wow, this guy looks good.'"

Jason Garrett sounds happy with what he saw from Ogletree against the 49ers' starting secondary.

"He's made a real positive impression on all of us," said Jason Garrett, the offensive coordinator. "There's a tendency to say, 'Hey, he's playing in the second half of games. He's playing against young guys.' This was an opportunity for him to go against some guys who have played in this league before, veteran players, and I thought he did a good job."

Last week, we heard about Romo's comfort with the team's depth at wide receiver. Ogletree is appreciative for his opportunity to work with Romo.

"It's a privilege to be out there with Tony Romo," Ogletree said. "I tell him that. He knows that. We're just trying to get that rhythm going and trying to be there for him. You just want to be dependable. You want to be a guy when you're called up to do something, you come through. And that's what I'm trying to do, to be that guy."

In April, we witnessed a draft that sought to improve the overall depth of the team - most of the picks were focused on defense and special teams. With the team's last pick being made on Oklahoma's Manny Johnson, the wide receiver position seemed an afterthought.

Then, thanks to John Garrett's Virginia connection, along came Ogletree.

I'm not putting him ahead of Austin or Hurd on the depth chart, or predicting he will be a regular contributor or anything like that.

I just hope the Cowboys keep him.

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