Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
While Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was up in a luxury suite having someone wipe off his glasses for him, Kevin Ogletree was down on the field having the night of his life.
In a game with dozens of storylines, celebrities and star players, somehow a mystery receiver who had never scored an NFL touchdown until a few hours ago was able to steal the spotlight.
I'm sure Ogletree's Wikipedia page has never seen as much traffic as it has over the last 24 hours.
So, while the Twittersphere continues to buzz over Ogletree's performance in Wednesday night's season-opening win versus the archrival New York Giants, one question still remains: is this guy for real?
Eight catches, 114 yards and two touchdowns on national television seems pretty real to me.
Ogletree did it all Wednesday night.
On his 10-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, Ogletree demonstrated soft hands and terrific concentration.
Later, Ogletree showed off his blistering quickness by breezing past cornerback Corey Webster for a backbreaking 40-yard score to begin the third quarter.
And then he finished things off with a brilliant 13-yard grab in traffic to seal the game after Tony Romo bravely aired it out on third and ten with 2 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the game. All Dallas had to do after that was take a knee and run out the clock.
Game, set, Ogletree.
It was a gutsy effort by the 25-year-old, especially given Dallas' recent history against the Giants and the hostile environment they were playing in at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey. But is it repeatable?
Plenty will look at Ogletree as a one-hit wonder and credit his success to injuries in the Cowboys' receiving corps and a weak Giants' secondary that finished fourth-to-last in pass defense a season ago. They'll tell you that if Miles Austin and trusted tight end Jason Witten had been at 100 percent, Ogletree's breakout performance would never have happened.
Maybe. Or maybe the former Virginia Cavalier is finally ready to become a consistent fantasy contributor after years of being buried behind the likes of Laurent Robinson and Roy Williams on the Cowboys' receiving depth chart.
Ogletree has essentially replaced Robinson (now with the Jacksonville Jaguars) as the team's No. 3 receiving option behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Last season, Robinson reeled in 63 catches for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns, so clearly Romo isn't afraid to share the ball with his third option, especially when Bryant and Austin have two or three defenders on them.
Those kind of stats are more than viable in fantasy, and if Ogletree is capable of duplicating them, you could argue that he's a legitimate starter in fantasy, whether it be as a flex or simply as a second wide receiver.
If you look at last season's crop of Week 1 studs, almost all of them went on to have solid seasons - another good sign for those who are intrigued by Ogletree's fantasy potential. Of the five players who registered more than 110 receiving yards in last year's season opener, only Kenny Britt failed to reach 1,000 yards for the season and that's only because Britt tore his ACL in Week 3.
Ogletree's eye-opening first game of the season comes on the heels of a great preseason as the four-year veteran hauled in 10 catches for 147 yards in parts of four exhibition contests. The 147 yards were the 17th-most in the league during preseason action.
When it comes to Cowboys receivers, Ogletree might be the healthiest and most stable of the bunch. Dez Bryant is talented but often a bit of a head case. Austin's fragile hamstring is capable of giving out at any moment, so it's unlikely he'll be able to last an entire 16-game slate. Witten has been a rock for Dallas, but even he has shown hints of vulnerability this offseason following a lacerated spleen.
Romo looked razor sharp in the opener (22-for-29, 307 yards, three TDs) and already appears to have a strong chemistry with Ogletree, who captured eight of the 11 balls intended for him on Wednesday night. It's hard to imagine that Dallas would abandon this dynamic so quickly after how well it worked in Week 1.
Sometimes a strong running game can hinder passing statistics but that wasn't the case on Wednesday. Even with Romo hitting on all cylinders, the Cowboys didn't shy away from giving DeMarco Murray carries and he ended up having a terrific game (20 carries, 131 yards). In fact, the threat of Murray dashing up the middle for a big gain kept the Giants defense off balance, opening up the passing game for Romo and Ogletree.
Dallas does have a challenging schedule ahead (the Cowboys will face three of the league's top four passing defenses from a year ago in Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh), so Ogletree won't be able to rack up 100 yards every week. But I wouldn't be surprised at all if his 2012 numbers end up looking pretty similar to the ones Robinson posted for Big D last season.
It's easy to be skeptical about a player who has only netted 33 catches in 32 NFL games, but remember, unlikely heroes come to life all the time in this league. Tom Brady went from a draft afterthought to one of the top quarterbacks of a generation. Ogletree's own starting quarterback Tony Romo wasn't drafted at all before catching on as a backup to Drew Bledsoe and look how his career turned out.
Crazier things have happened. I say give Ogletree a try and see what happens. And if Ogletree turns into a bust, well at least he put on one heck of a show for us Wednesday night.
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