Last season after losing starting wide receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin to injuries wide receiver Laurent Robinson, 3rd on the depth chart, stepped in. Laurent Robinson more then filled the void catching 54 passes for 858 yards and a team high 11 touchdowns. But for all that hard work, Robinson was rewarded in free agency with a 5 year $32.5 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. This has left a void for the Dallas’ group of wide receivers at the third slot.
So who will fill that void? You’d have to assume that Kevin Ogletree is the favorite considering he’s the only candidate who has caught a pass in an NFL game. However, Ogletree has caught only 25 of those passes. That’s right, last season Ogletree had his “career” (and I use that term cautiously) season with 15 receptions for 164 yards. Ogletree has also never caught a touchdown pass in his 3 year career either. Ogletree’s career in Dallas could be described as underachieving.
That leaves the young rookie wide receivers the Cowboy’s drafted and signed. Tony Romo said that the young guns have a chance to be successful but it’ll take hard work, but that the talent and ability is there.
“We want somebody to come in and grab that spot,” Romo said during the first week of OTAs. “Guys have got to work their butt off. They’ve got to develop a rapport with me and they’ve got to know the offense. When they do that, they’ll have a great chance, because we’ve got some guys who have some ability in this room.”
The Cowboy’s drafted WR Danny Coale out of Virginia Tech. Coale was a pretty solid college player with solid college numbers. In a radio interview in Dallas Coale said the way he plays wide receivers draw comparisons to Wes Welker. Which is something Dallas could use, having Bryant and Austin who are great at stretching the field getting down field and running post routes.
Todd McShay said “Coale, on the other hand, will push for playing time as the slot receiver and step in right away as a gunner on the punt team.”
Jason Garrett wasn’t short on praise either saying “he’s a guy that has all the measurables to play. He’s almost 6-feet tall, ran in the 4.3’s as a receiver. We feel like he has good traits to be an inside receiver and also the physical skills to be an outside receiver. We’re excited about him at the receiver position but also as a special teams contributor. Very good career there at Virginia Tech.”
However, Coale broke a bone in his left foot last week in Dallas’ OTA’s. The injury will require him to have surgery and miss the early part of training camp, slated to begin in late July. That surely might put him at a disadvantage.
That brings us to Andre Holmes. The Cowboys like his speed and praised his work as a member of the scout team during last season. Many consider him the favorite so far in the race. Jerry Jones has been feeding the hype machine surrounding Holmes so far.
Raymond Radway is also a consideration here. Many considered Radway the star of training camp last year before suffering a severe leg injury in the final preseason game. That injury effectively ended his shot at the 2011 season.
Dwayne Harris is someone to consider too. Harris showed signs of flash as a returner last season.
The reality of this situation is that the number 3 receiver for the Cowboys is Jason Witten. They aren’t looking to find a #3 receiver to replicate Robinson’s year. Robinson got considerable playing time thanks to the injury to Austin. He in fact played a lot as a #2 receiver. Explosive first halves by Dez Bryant drew a lot of attention and helped him out. You could make the argument that behind DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones that the #3 receiver is the 5th option in the Cowboys’ offense.
The Cowboys are looking more for 30-35 catches per year and 500 yards and a few touchdowns. ”Quarterback friendly” Holmes seems to be the favorite so far with Coale out with injury.
“He’s really a big guy with long arms and he just showed a real tenacity playing on the scout team against the defensive starters, to run good routes, to be aggressive to the ball,” Jimmy Robinson said. “He showed that he can measure up physically in this league,
so now it’s about learning our system and doing things the way we do them … instead of running them off cards.”
None of these guys are going to be Pro Bowlers, just consistent productive members of the Cowboys’ potent offense. Look for it to come down to Harris, Coale and maybe Radway, but we won’t know till training camp starts and Coale is back on the field.
“I’m hopeful that we have that guy here now,” Jimmy Robinson said, “but time will tell.”