Thursday, October 3, 2013
Ogletree joins Lions, hopes to play Sunday
By Michael Rothstein
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Kevin Ogletree didn’t expect it, didn’t think he’d be released from Tampa Bay four weeks into an awful season full of controversy for the Buccaneers.
So for a moment, he retreated into a “shell” as his agent sorted things out. When the Bucs released him Tuesday, he had never been cut before so he didn’t know how to react.
Kevin Ogletree spent his first four NFL seasons with the Cowboys before joining the Bucs in the offseason.
His time without a team didn’t last long. Detroit expressed interest. He showed up for a workout Wednesday and signed with the Lions -- going from one of the most dysfunctional situations in the NFL to one of the league’s more explosive offenses.
In a day.
“I was really just in a shell for a little bit and then, you know, options became a reality,” Ogletree said Thursday, his first day with Detroit. “I spoke with whomever and this came to the table and it’s a good situation.
Ogletree had been somewhat of a contributor for Tampa Bay. He caught eight passes for 70 yards and a touchdown in his first four games this season, including five receptions for 30 yards against Arizona last Sunday.
Then he was released. He didn’t want to say much about his time in Tampa -- he was being interviewed within a half-hour of his former quarterback, Josh Freeman, being released -- but he didn’t see his departure coming.
“I never expected it,” Ogletree said. “So maybe. Maybe. But I’m here now. This is great.”
Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said the Lions had looked at him a little bit during free agency last season and liked what they saw, but he went to Tampa. Making any assessment of him with the Buccaneers this season was not easy.
Detroit offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said the Lions' coaching staff watched some of his tape from the past couple of years and they saw “promise.” Also, he had a breakout game -- his only 100-yard game -- in the season-opener last season, catching eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns for Dallas against the Giants.
“He’s got a little bit of experience. He’s got good size. He’s got good strength,” Schwartz said. “Got good speed. We had done some research on him last year in free agency and stuff like that. We liked what we saw from Dallas.
“It was a little bit hard to judge him this season just the way their team was going with quarterback and stuff like that. But we’ll get him up to speed as quick as we can.”
Where he’ll fit in is a different question. Detroit needed a receiver due to the injuries to Nate Burleson and Patrick Edwards. Burleson will be out for a while. Edwards may return this week.
But Ogletree offers a versatile option, having played on the outside and in the slot, a speed receiver who was clocked at 4.46 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.
The Flushing, N.Y., native is hoping for a quick turnaround as well. He said Thursday he would like to play in some role Sunday when the Lions try to win in Wisconsin for the first time since 1991.
“I want to play Sunday for sure. It’s a Sunday in October, so I expect to play,” Ogletree said. “We’ll see what happens when that time comes around but as long as I get this stuff week by week, things will fall into place.
“We’ve got a great team. If I can help out, that’s all I want to do.”
While Ogletree doesn’t have much familiarity with quarterback Matthew Stafford, he knows all about Calvin Johnson. In 2006, he finished third in the Atlantic Coast Conference in receptions (52) and seventh in yards (582). One of the guys ahead him in both categories -- Johnson.
Ogletree’s plan? Follow Johnson again.
“He’s just great,” Ogletree said. “I’m going to be right on his coat tail and I’m going to emulate how he goes about being a pro.”
Emulating Johnson isn’t a necessity in Detroit. Just being a complement to him in the receiving corps is.