Eager to prove himself

When he signed with the Dallas Cowboys two years ago as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Virginia, wide receiver Kevin Ogletree was not exactly a household name

But Ogletree was a pleasant surprise, becoming the only undrafted rookie to make the team.

Ogletree caught seven passes in his first season for 96 yards and stood out on special teams. He's a smart, athletic wideout who many targeted as a future regular in the receivers rotation. But he took a step back last year, playing in just six games and catching on three passes.

"Just being young, making mistakes, not fully understanding everything," Ogletree said when asked what prevented him from already claiming the No. 3 receiver spot (behind presumed starters Miles Austin and Dez Bryant). "It's a process. (Head) Coach (Jason) Garrett always talks about that, and I think this is a big part of the process right here."

Garrett said that while Ogletree's statistics are rather pedestrian, the third-year receiver has done nothing to temper his coach's confidence in him.

"I think like with any young player, it's understanding the importance of each opportunity and taking advantage of it," Garrett said. "There's a learning curve for receivers — really for anybody when they transition from college to the NFL — but if you look at receivers, it usually takes receivers a little bit of time.

"Kevin, for the most part, is taking advantage of his opportunities. A couple of years ago, he got a few opportunities and he really showed up in games. Last year when we drafted Dez (Bryant) those opportunities early in the year were fewer and (farther) between for him. When he did get an opportunity later, before he got hurt, he did some nice things. We expect him to continue to progress as a player, continue to mature, and that's just part of the process."

Ogletree said that not only is he motivated to show that he is a better player than his statistics in his first two seasons indicate, but the entire team is inspired to show that the 2010-11 season was an aberration, and the Cowboys are better than the squad that finished 6-10 and got head coach Wade Phillips fired during the season.

"It's our time, I think. This team is very excited to bounce back after last year and I know I want to be a big part of it, so I'm going to work my butt off to do that."

Ogletree said he is not putting any undue pressure on himself to claim the No. 3 spot in the Cowboys' wide receivers rotation, even after veterans Sam Hurd and Roy Williams have left the team.

"I'm clear-minded," Ogletree said. "(There is) not too much thought going through in my head. The best chance I can give myself to playing is coming out here and doing well and being prepared, and that's what I (plan to) do. That's how I can get better."

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