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Ogletree Has Real Chance to be Cowboys' 3rd WR

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    Kevin Ogletree reached back with one hand, tipped the ball up and then made a nifty grab in the end zone with a defender right behind him.

    Even though that catch came during a Dallas Cowboys training camp drill, every play counts for Ogletree while trying to secure his spot as the team's third receiver.

    During a later situational practice against the No. 1 defense, Ogletree caught four passes. Three of them were from Tony Romo during a two-minute drill.

    "I know what's in front of me, the opportunity in front of me. So my head is down working toward that," Ogletree said.

    "He has got that right, everything counts and everything's scrutinized to the nth degree," new receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said. "But the opportunity is there for him and he's got to prove that he's up to the opportunity. And I'm optimistic that he will."

    Two years ago, Ogletree was the only undrafted rookie to make the Cowboys roster and was considered the up-and-coming receiver. But he got overshadowed last season after Dez Bryant was picked in the first round of the draft and responded with a standout performance alongside Pro Bowl receiver Miles Austin and Roy Williams before breaking his ankle.

    Bryant's injury last December cleared the way for Ogletree to fill in as the No. 3 receiver for the final four games of the season. Except Ogletree injured his toe in the first game after that and didn't play again.

    When the under-producing and overpriced Williams was released last month, that guaranteed Bryant would be a starter with Austin. And it provided another chance for Ogletree to move up the depth chart.

    "He has the quickness, and the speed, the strength and the route-running ability to when he's covered by an NFL corner, he can go out and beat them," coach Jason Garrett said Tuesday. "He's shown that in practice, he's shown that in games throughout his career in the limited reps that he's gotten. ... He still has a long way to go, an understanding of what we're doing, how to attack defenses, being a more consistent and dependable player."

    Ogletree signed with the Cowboys after bypassing his senior season at Virginia. He had 58 catches for 723 yards and five touchdowns as a junior in 2008 after missing the previous season with a knee injury.

    There have been only 17 NFL games over the past two seasons for Ogletree. He has 10 career catches for 130 yards and 14 kickoff returns for a 19.6-yard average.

    His outlook for this season suddenly changed with the news only days before training camp that Williams was among several high-priced veterans being released by the Cowboys.

    "I just thought it was a business decision and it was obviously a little message to myself just to come ready," Ogletree said. "This chance right here is something I'm going to have to take. I know it's not going to be given to me."

    Ogletree is among a large group of young receivers.

    The most experienced receiver is Austin, the former undrafted rookie who got a long-term contract extension last season. Garrett has repeatedly said one of the young players needs to step up as the third receiver.

    "I think of me, just filling in that role and giving the team what we need," Ogletree said. "I think I have all the tools, there's nothing physically that I think I lack. It's just about consistency and being trusted, being trustworthy and making those plays when they come to you, and that's my job."

    Austin is going into his sixth NFL season but has been a starter for less than two full years. His first career start was at Kansas City in October 2009, when he had 10 catches for a team-record 250 yards and two touchdowns, including a 60-yard game-winner in overtime.

    Next in order of seniority among the receivers is Ogletree.

    "Without a doubt, he's got a ton of ability, does some things very, very well," Robinson said. "He's got to develop a consistency, and a commitment of all areas of what we're doing, pass game, run game, the blocking aspect of things. `'

    A significant test for Ogletree and the other receivers comes Thursday night when the Cowboys play their preseason opener at home against Denver.

    Garrett said it's obvious that Ogletree understands the chance he has and is doing everything he can to take advantage.

    "There's no indication that he's shied away from it at all," said Garrett, who was already the team's offensive coordinator when Ogletree joined the team.

    "Kevin has done a really nice job. We saw this right from the start in him," said the coach who also still coordinates the offense. "He's a guy who can win as an outside receiver. Not everybody can say that."