Cowboys receiver Kevin Ogletree picking up the slack with absence of Austin and Bryant

08/22/2012 11:45 PM

11/12/2014 2:37 PM

SAN DIEGO -- The words were in another answer to another question in another news conference, slipped in there almost too fast for anybody to notice.

"Really being the lead receiver."

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was talking not about Miles Austin or Dez Bryant.

Or this year's hot rookie, Cole Beasley.

Or last year's top touchdown receiver, Laurent Robinson.

He meant Kevin Ogletree, the fourth-year veteran who many, including the Cowboys, seemingly want to count out of the fight for the third receiver position.

But last week, Ogletree re-inserted himself into the competition with four catches for 60 yards against San Diego, including a 35-yarder between cornerback Quentin Jammer and safety Eric Weddle.

He came down with the ball at the 4-yard line, setting up the Cowboys' first touchdown of the preseason, and came off the field to helmet slaps for his toughness.

"The quarterbacks have confidence in him," Garrett said Tuesday after the end of the Cowboys' second practice against the Chargers, in which Ogletree caught a touchdown pass from Tony Romo in 11-on-11 action. "He has become more consistent. He has done a good job attacking the football and making contested catches. We saw that the other night in the game."

Garrett gave a mini-summary of Ogletree's time with the Cowboys, which included making the team in 2009 as an undrafted player out of Virginia.

"Kevin, throughout his career, has done a pretty good job with the opportunities that he has gotten," Garrett said. "He had a few opportunities when he was a rookie and a young guy that he took advantage of. Then we drafted Dez, and his opportunities become more limited.

"But he has done a good job stepping up in the absence of Miles and Dez and done a good job for our team, really being the lead receiver. He has to get better in all areas, but he is improving on a daily basis and going about it in the right way."

Subtly, Garrett endorsed Ogletree's play and his position as the top receiver in the wake of the injuries to Austin and Bryant.

Ogletree is a different receiver, but he might be a different person, also. His brother was shot last winter in New York, and Ogletree spent a lot of time at his side helping him recover. Ogletree said this summer he believes he matured, and Romo agrees.

"He's committed himself," the quarterback said. "I've talked to him a number of times. He's had ability since he's been here. It takes more than that. It comes down to his ability to take it and make it important each day you walk in."

It might be for a while. Austin isn't expected back this week as he rehabs a hamstring injury, and Bryant is resting after patellar tendinitis was found in his right knee this week.

"One day at a time is my approach," Ogletree said. "Just getting better every chance I get, never looking down or behind me or in front of me or at numbers. It's just growing every day as a player and as a person. That's really helping."

Free practice

The Cowboys will host their annual Silver and Blue Debut today at Cowboys Stadium. This is a free and open-to-the-public practice for fans beginning at 4:30 p.m. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. Parking is $10 per vehicle. Parking lots open at 2:30 p.m.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760

Twitter @calexmendez

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