Cowboys counting on Kevin Ogletree


Cowboys counting on Kevin Ogletree
By Tim MacMahon

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys promise dumping Patrick Crayton wasn’t simply a cost-cutting move. They insist that it was also about the progress of second-year receiver Kevin Ogletree.

“It’s not strictly the money,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “It’s, how do you want your team to progress? If you’re always keeping the veteran guys over the young guys, then you ultimately become and old team, and that bites you at some point.”

Will getting rid of a reliable receiver bite the Cowboys this season?

Jones said the Cowboys waited until this week to make the move – instead of trading or releasing Crayton in the spring, as he requested – because they wanted a full training camp and preseason to evaluate their young receivers.

They saw Dez Bryant flash brilliance for a week before suffering a high ankle sprain that has sidelined him since with the exception of Tuesday’s practice. They watched Ogletree ride a camp roller-coaster.

“I certainly think his future is bright,” Jones said of Ogletree. “Obviously, this does clear the way for him to do more. I’m certain that he’ll answer the bell. I think he’ll play well. There’s some inconsistency at times, but overall we like his prospects.”

There’s no question that Ogletree, who caught seven passes for 96 yards as an undrafted rookie, has the talent to play a key role for the Cowboys for a long time. He’s a much more explosive player than Crayton.

But Ogletree isn’t nearly as crafty or consistent as Crayton. Not yet, at least.

That was clear as Ogletree, whose role was limited to a specific package last season, made many mental errors and struggled with drops during the San Antonio portion of camp. He performed much better in Oxnard, Calif., but he missed some practices late in camp due to a sore hamstring. He finished the preseason strong, catching a 24-yard touchdown against the Texans and catching six passes for 51 yards in the preseason finale.

“I think he’s proven that he should have an opportunity,” Jones said. “He’s made some big plays in big games. He’s young. With youth, you have some inexperience and inconsistencies, but I think he’s also shown that he deserves the opportunity to do more. I look forward to seeing that.”

The Cowboys kept undrafted Miles Austin behind Crayton on the depth chart for more than three years, which was clearly a mistake. They bumped Crayton off the roster in part to give Ogletree a chance to blossom in his second season.

It remains to be seen whether that was the right move. Ogletree has a lot to prove. The Cowboys could rely on Crayton.

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