Thursday, December 14, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ogletree battling for Bucs' third receiver spot

TAMPA — The Bucs' passing game was in some rarefied air last season. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams formed the third-most productive tandem of wideouts in the NFL (excluding tight ends) with a combined 2,380 receiving yards, behind only the Falcons' Roddy White and Julio Jones (2,549) and the Broncos' Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker (2,498).

But QB Josh Freeman could use a third target. A year ago, it was RB Doug Martin, who caught 49 passes, two more than departed TE Dallas Clark.

Right now, there is a three-way battle for the third receiver spot, but the player to watch as the Bucs head into their mandatory minicamp Tuesday is Cowboys free agent Kevin Ogletree.

The former Virginia star has played in 29 games the past two seasons with the Cowboys and is coming off his best year, with 32 catches for 436 yards and four TDs.

In the Cowboys offense, Ogletree was no better than a fourth option for QB Tony Romo, behind Dez Bryant, TE Dallas Clark and WR Miles Austin.

In Tampa Bay, Ogletree is in a battle for the third receiver spot with Tiquan Underwood, David Douglas and Chris Owusu.

"We're a lot younger team here," Ogletree said. "Guys are filled with energy and passion and emotion. Not that they weren't like that in Dallas, but here we're so young. It just feels like a high school locker room, kind of … not maturity-wise, but in wanting to just go play football."

Helping Ogletree is the fact that his former position coach in Dallas, John Garrett, accepted a similar position with the Bucs. Though the feeling is that Ogletree would play slot receiver, he has the ability to move outside as well.

"Our offense is so different than other ones — there's not really one person who's the slot receiver," he said. "We're in and out. We've got guys mixing in. There will be weeks where we'll be looking at one matchup and having a guy lined up at (a certain) place. Being versatile and being able to play inside or outside really helps me."

Most of the focus is on the additions of CB Darrelle Revis and S Dashon Goldson. But like Ogletree, some lesser-known players are battling for face time:

• LB Jonathan Casillas: The Saints free agent is competing at strong side linebacker with Dakota Watson and Adam Hayward, among others. Casillas made six starts in the past two seasons for the Saints and is a lights-out special teams player. Watson has the edge heading into minicamp.

• TE Tom Crabtree: The Packers free agent will push Luke Stocker for the starting spot. Good blocker and highly productive receiver (8 catches, 203 yards, 3 TDs) who could make two tight end sets a viable option for offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.

• RB/KR Jeff Demps: The former Florida star is committed to running track this summer but wants to play football in the fall and will have a good shot at winning the kick-return duties. Tampa Bay also signed Temple RB Matt Brown, who was impressive after an invite to a rookie minicamp.

READY REVIS: GM Mark Dominik still believes Revis will be in pads the first day of training camp.

"Fully confident," Dominik told the NFL Network on Friday. "He's in great shape right now, he's running full speed, he's cutting, he's doing all the things we'd want him to do from a training standpoint, a rehabilitation standpoint.

"We're going to keep him at our pace, but the whole point is that he'll walk out to the first day of training camp, he'll have the pads on and he'll be ready hopefully for the Jets (in) Week 1. We're expecting that."

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