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Eatman: Third WR Position Looking Solidified, For Now

Posted Aug 19, 2012

SAN DIEGO – No player should make the team by one preseason game. On the flip side, no one should be cut because of a single exhibition game as well.

The same goes for position battles.

Obviously it’s about the entire body of work for the entire training camp, which means all the practices, the walkthroughs and these four preseason games. But it’s only natural to put more stock on the games with the big crowds, under the lights and in front of the camera.

That being said, Kevin Ogletree’s stock rose a lot more Saturday night in the Cowboys’ 28-20 loss to the Chargers. Ogletree not only had four catches for 60 yards, but there was a single play that might have solidified his spot for the No. 3 position this year, at least to start the season.

Yeah, it was a pretty nice 35-yard reception where Ogletree went up over two defenders to haul in Kyle Orton’s throw. The fourth-year receiver took a pretty hard lick on the play, but held onto the ball at the Chargers’ 4.

So why is this play such a big deal, other than it set up the Cowboys’ first touchdown of the preseason? Well, it just so happened to be Ogletree’s best play of his career, in my opinion.

I really can’t recall another catch in which Ogletree actually played much bigger than his 6-1, 198-pound frame (which seems to be a little generous for both categories). Sure, it’s just a preseason game, but it’s plays like that the Cowboys must see out of Ogletree, and really any of these backup receivers, to give the club some confidence in this group.

Coming into camp, it was pretty clear about the wide receiver depth chart. You had two guys, and everyone else.

Now, it seems like you’ve got two guys, then a third, and everyone else.

Obviously we’re referring to Miles Austin and Dez Bryant (pick your own order on that duo) as the top two guys, but give Ogletree credit for standing out by himself at No. 3.

But then again, he’s not that far ahead of Cole Beasley, who racked up some stats in the second half Saturday, finishing the game with 104 yards on seven catches. Even Dwayne Harris’ four-catch, 42-yard night with a touchdown was pretty impressive.

Beasley and Harris helped their cause, just like Andre Holmes did last week. But still, I think the edge goes to Ogletree.

All offseason, I had a theory that Ogletree’s only chance to stick around was as a No. 3 receiver. Anything higher on the depth chart is unrealistic. Anything lower and it doesn’t make sense to keep a fourth-year guy who barely plays special teams.

And here we are … Halfway through the preseason games and with training camp now in the rearview mirror, and Ogletree is sitting firmly in this third spot.

Now, I can’t go too crazy here on Ogletree. For about two years now I’ve said both in print and on radio shows that I didn’t think Ogletree deserved a roster spot. I thought for a guy his size, he didn’t bring any special qualities to the table. He isn’t that big, not blazing fast, or even exceptionally quick. He doesn’t have the best hands and when it comes to character and off-the-field decisions, there have been question marks there as well.

Yet, for right now, he’s the third-best receiver on this team.

Ok, so does that mean the Cowboys don’t need to scour the waiver wire anymore for receivers? Absolutely not. Keep looking. In fact, the Cowboys even took a hard look at recently cut Jordan Shipley after he was let go by the Bengals.

Shipley apparently has a knee injury that could give him problems down the road, and has been injured off and on during his young career. So Shipley didn’t pan out, but the Cowboys will be looking at a lot of these receivers as they become available.

Whether or not Ogletree makes nice plays like he did Saturday night in San Diego won’t likely change that.

But think about it, with Austin nursing hamstring injuries, who knows how serious this could get. And Bryant, as great as he’s been, he’s always susceptible to injury. Even if the Cowboys go and land another veteran receiver, it’s going to take some time to get him adjusted. He won’t know the offense and there’s a chance he might not be in the best football shape.

We all remember the 11 touchdowns Laurent Robinson scored last year, but he also suffered a  hamstring injury on the first practice he got here, which resulted in his release. The Cowboys brought him back and his season, and career, took off.

So in the meantime, a guy like Ogletree is certainly needed for this team. He’ll be a No. 3, maybe even a No. 2 if needed.

Sure, you keep looking, but Ogletree has done enough here so far to solidify a spot.

             

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