Kevin Ogletree said something will be different about him this year than in years past when he has tried to take a firm hold of the No. 3 receiver position.
Football has become his focus.
“I haven’t, for a while, had football as my life, my focus,” he said this week at the Cowboys golf tournament in Grapevine. “Some things happened in the offseason that really forced me to look in the mirror and dig deep and find out what I want to be.
“It’s a good opportunity for me. I’ve got to go out and grab it. Like I said, some bad things have turned me into a better person.”
Ogletree was talking about the shooting of his brother, Calvin Ogletree, in New York City in January. His older brother was shot in the head outside his luxury rental car business in Queens and is recovering.
“That specifically has changed my attitude and work ethic,” Ogletree said.
Ogletree, entering his fourth year with the Cowboys since making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2009, had his most productive year last season. He caught 15 passes for 164 yards, 11 for first downs, and returned two punts.
But he fell behind Laurent Robinson in the pecking order for the No. 3 receiver spot. He became a restricted free agent after the season, and although the Cowboys didn’t tender him an offer – making him available to any other team – he and the club agreed to a one-year deal in March.
In March, coach Jason Garrett brought up Ogletree’s name when he was asked about the No. 3 receiver spot.
“We feel like we have some young receivers that we like," Garrett said. “Kevin Ogletree has been with us for three years now and has really done a good job with the opportunities given him. Has not had a lot of playing time, been behind some veteran players. But we like what he's doing with the limited chances he's gotten, so he's certainly in the mix.”
At last week’s rookie minicamp, receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said of Ogletree’s prospects to emerge as the third receiver, “I’m hopeful that he can. Again, that’s an unknown at this point, but he’s had a good off-season. All I can say is so far he’s worked extremely hard. He’s gotten stronger. He’s gotten bigger. So again, time will tell.”
Ogletree was asked by reporters if he sees signs of the Cowboys’ faith in him.
“It’s my job to instill that faith, and you can only do that by working hard, coming to work every day with your lunch pail and just giving it your all,” he said.
He said he didn’t dwell on not being offered a contract initially.
“It’s a business. I know they had some priorities they had to take care of and some free agency deals that they were trying to work out,” he said. “I just had to be ready for whatever and continue to work like I was going to be somewhere.”
Ogletree said all of the receivers are trying to take advantage of their chance to replace Robinson.
“If we could get another Laurent anywhere on the team, that would be good, just because of how productive he was and how much he helped our team last year,” he said. “We’re all working to be the best player we can be. We know as long as we get better, we’ll be a better team. As far as myself goes, those are some pretty big shoes to fill, but I’ll be working my hardest.”
Ogletree said he can already sense the benefits of a formal offseason.
“It’s such a relief being in there and being able to listen to Coach Robinson and be around Coach Garrett,” he said. “I really never felt the effect of the lockout until this year, when you realize what you’re missing. It’s just good to hear them talk to you, to get coaching, not to be so far way from work. It’s really a great deal to have a traditional offseason.”
-- Carlos Mendez