IRVING, Texas - The Cowboys are certainly counting on someone, anyone, to emerge from the logjam that exists at the backup receiver position.
Behind starters, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, it's a tight competition that hasn't changed much in two weeks of organized team activities (OTAs). Now, the biggest moves typically occur in training camp, but the coaching staff would prefer for at least one or two players to rise up from the pack.
From the sound of things, at least one player has actually jumped into the pack.
That would be Cole Beasley, a rookie free agent from SMU, who wasn't in the initial group of receivers positioning for one of the top backup spots. But in these three weeks of OTA practices, Beasley has consistently shown up in drills and even worked as the No. 3 receiver some in last week's practice at Cowboys Stadium.
Heading into these summer practices, Kevin Ogletree assumed the role as the No. 3 receiver. He's got the experience as he enters his fourth season and is the only receiver on the roster other than Bryant and Austin who has actually caught a pass in a regular-season game.
But let's not forget where Ogletree came from. Three years ago, Ogletree was the unknown rookie who took advantage of his situation as injuries at the receiver position allowed him to take numerous summer reps. By the time training camp rolled around, Ogletree continued to make plays to the point where the Cowboys had no choice but to keep him.
Who knows, maybe Beasley will be this year's Ogletree.
So far, Beasley has elevated himself into the second tier of receivers along with Andre Holmes, Raymond Radway and Dwayne Harris. Fifth-round pick Danny Coale is expected to be in that mix once he returns from a broken foot, likely around the start of training camp.
It's definitely early in the process, and in OTAs and even the minicamp, receivers seem to have the advantage in drills and team competition.
So far, Beasley does a great job of getting open. And at 5-8, 184 pounds, he has no choice but to use his quickness and smarts to find the open holes of the defense. While it might be a different story once the pads come on, all Beasley can do is what he's been doing – and that's getting open and making plays.
Beasley also says studying the playbook as much as possible and learning all the receiver positions is a big advantage as well.
"Everybody is going to be good on this level," Beasley said. "The key is to pick up the offense as fast as you can. It gives the coaches confidence to put you in there. I think that's why they had the confidence putting me in there because they felt like I knew what I was doing a little bit."
One offensive coach called Beasley one of the "two best route runners on the team" right now, and that includes all of the veterans.
The knock on him is obviously his size, or lack thereof. While he naturally gets compared to Wes Welker in New England, the fact remains there aren't too many 5-8 receivers in the NFL.
But Beasley isn't worried about things he can't control, like size or even draft status. Being undrafted means nothing at this stage of the game.
"The best people are going to play at the highest level," Beasley said. "It doesn't matter if you get drafted or not. All it means is they got your for cheap and it might be a steal. The best players are going to play. You just have to go out there and compete like you were drafted. It doesn't matter, just show them what you can do."
What he did at SMU was quite impressive. Beasley started in at least seven games for all four years of his collegiate career. As senior, he caught 86 catches for 1,040 yards and two touchdowns. He had 87 for 1,060 and six scores as a junior.
Beasley's college coach at SMU was June Jones, a former NFL head coach for the Falcons. Jones has 11 years of NFL coaching experience, and Beasley credits his college offense in getting him prepared for the next level.
"We threw the ball all the time," Beasley said. "It's not really a Pro-Style offense, but we threw it a ton. We just tried to spread out the defense. We had set routs, but most of his offense was just finding open spaces. You really have to feel for holes in zones, especially playing the slot like I did. I feel like I have a good feel for it because of that."
More than just the offense, Beasley said playing for Jones also prepared him for other aspects of the pro game.
"Coach Jones has done a good job of showing us what the coaches at this level expect," Beasley said. "He wanted us to practice like pros. I think it had a lot to do with my success there."
So far, Beasley has translated that success to the pros, even if it's still early in the summer.