Kevin Ogletree shows what he can do
Cowboys find comfort level in WR, who scores breakout performance in hometown
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The kid from Queens stood in the visitors' locker room wearing a Brooklyn Nets cap.
Everything says New York when you see and talk to Kevin Ogletree.
The kid can make plays.
Ogletree finished with career highs in catches (eight), yards (114) and touchdowns (two) in the Cowboys' 24-17 victory over the New York Giants in the NFL opener.
As Ogletree did interview after interview, his cellphone buzzed from inside his suit jacket. He wasn't sure if his voicemail was full, but the 10 tickets he received for the game were for people very close to him.
The offseason was an emotional time for Ogletree.
"It's an emotional game and an emotional moment," he said. "I don't know how well I played. I'm too emotional and I had to put that behind me and I had to execute in the ballgame and help my team win."
He endured a personal tragedy after the 2011 season when his brother Calvin Ogletree was shot in the head during a robbery. Kevin Ogletree was on a plane ride home to New York when the shooting happened, and he said it put things in perspective. He doesn't talk much about what his brother is going through in rehab, saying only that he has his full support.
On the field, Ogletree finished the 2011 season in disappointing fashion. He lost the No. 3 receiver spot to Laurent Robinson. He watched Robinson lead the Cowboys with 11 touchdown receptions and then leave for the Jacksonville Jaguars as a free agent.
Robinson was so highly regarded at Valley Ranch that Cowboys coach Jason Garrett called to wish him well. Ogletree had to deal with his own free agency but made just one visit, to his hometown Giants.
As critical as fans and media are about Dez Bryant's development as a receiver, there is Ogletree's progression to consider. People want to see what the fuss is about.
On Wednesday night, we found out.
"It was great, just a good deal," he said. "I felt really good vibes when I woke up this morning. I had great meetings, got to go see my brother ... really good vibes today. I couldn't be more proud of the team effort."
It was interesting to see how Tony Romo found a comfort level with Ogletree. A 14-yard reception, Ogletree's first of the game, came out of the slant. It brought to mind how Miles Austin makes plays on that route. Ogletree picked up 23 yards in the first quarter on slant routes.
Things were going so well that Romo tried to force a pass to Ogletree as the receiver ran a crossing route, but he was intercepted. Still, two of the biggest plays of the night put Ogletree's development on display. Moving forward, those plays should give the Cowboys hope he can establish himself as the No. 3 receiver.
"It was a great job by him to recognize where they were," Romo said. "I could sense where he was going and he made a great play to kind of assess where (the defenders) were at."
Ogletree secured the Cowboys' win with another catch late in the game. Faced with a third-and-10 from the 39 and 2:11 to play, Romo found Ogletree for 13 yards on a short pass to the left side.
"He did a really good job winning on his releases on his slants," Garrett said. "He had a number of big plays in the ballgame converting third-down situations into first downs. Obviously, the one at the end was huge as well."
Now all Ogletree has to do is continue it.