Dallas Cowboys: Kevin Ogletree Firmly Plants His Roots in the Offense

Peter MatarazzoContributor ISeptember 7, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 05:  Wide receiver Kevin Ogletree #85 of the Dallas Cowboys runs with the ball after a catch against free safety Antrel Rolle #26 of the New York Giants during the 2012 NFL season opener at MetLife Stadium on September 5, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Kevin Ogletree finally answered the biggest question facing the Dallas Cowboys since the departure of Laurent Robinson. Cowboy fans were finally waiting to see the flashes of talent he displayed as a rookie and if his preseason performance could carry over into the regular season.

I think we can put all of the No. 3 receiver talk firmly to bed for now.

Besides being the best receiver in a game that featured Victor Cruz, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, Ogletree's performance has raised the bar for every complementary player on this team to abide by. His eight-reception, 114-yard and two-touchdown performance is the kind of play this team needs to make this season something to remember.

Last season, Ogletree often looked out of sorts in the offense and wasn't much of a factor at all. But his performance against the New York Giants just might make us all forget Laurent Robinson. Ogletree pulled off the perfect trifecta with touchdown receptions of 10 and 40 yards, and the game-clinching, 15-yard reception on a slant pattern that just might send Tom Coughlin to a shrink.

It was priceless!!

There were a lot of question marks surrounding the passing game aside from the No. 3 receiver issue. Everything from Austin's timing and hamstrings, Bryant's tendinitis, Witten's effectiveness and Tony Romo's ability to have enough time to complete passes.

Not only was the execution crisp, with the exception of the excess amount of penalties, but Ogletree's chemistry with Romo was proof that his hard work and determination were finally paying off.

For months, Cowboy Nation was filled with trepidation about the loss of Robinson and who would be the right candidate to effectively fill his role. Maybe the coaches and management had that much faith in Ogletree, and that's why they never wavered in their stance of not bringing in a veteran.

If that's the case, then it's a stroke of genius. And his cap-friendly deal of $640,000 makes it an even bigger stroke.

What's really ironic about his opening-night performance is that last season, Ogletree effectively staked his claim to the No. 3 job out of training camp. But as I stated earlier, his performance left a lot to be desired. Eventually the Cowboys turned over the reins to Robinson, and Ogletree became an afterthought.

Many even questioned why the Cowboys would even bring him back to compete this offseason after a visit to the Giants out of all teams.

Wow, the irony.

The Cowboys did provide a lot of competition among the wide receivers this offseason by drafting Danny Coale, signing Cole Beasley and allowing players like Andre Holmes and Dwayne Harris to equally compete for that crucial No. 3 spot. Coale was the early favorite to win the job, and the Cowboys GM even envisioned Holmes as the guy.

But Ogletree took advantage of his opportunity by showing it in the preseason and now parlaying that into a performance that has set the tone for the season. He has not only showed his maturity, but he's also improved as a pass-catcher.

He displayed solid fundamentals by running crisp routes, showed great balance and awareness and did a nice job of framing receptions.

Every Cowboys fan has to feel good about Ogletree's performance. What makes his performance that much more memorable are the circumstances surrounding the shooting of his brother and how he probably played off of those emotions. If that isn't the true definition of character, I don't know what is.

For Kevin Ogletree, his play against the Giants on opening night will probably change his career. It's time to turn the page on the player he was and now focus on the player he will hopefully continue to be. His performance could be a crucial building block that will allow him to continue to get better.

If that's the case, then it will allow the Cowboys to become a better team. A team that will become better because of strong roots.