On Tuesday night, the New York Giants announced the signing of veteran wide receiver Kevin Ogletree, formerly of the Cowboys, Lions and Buccaneers. The Giants had reached a point of desperation at wide receiver, having placed Trindon Holliday, Mario Manningham, Marcus Harris, Jerrel Jernigan and -- most recently and significantly -- Victor Cruz on season-ending injured reserve since the end of training camp. Frighteningly thin at the position, they worked out Ogletree and others Tuesday, and Ogletree showed them enough to convince them he could help.
How can he help, you ask? First of all, it's likely to take at least a little bit of time. This isn't like last year when they got linebacker Jon Beason and were able to plug him right in once he studied up on their terminology. Ogletree will have to learn the Giants' offense -- a process that has taken a fair bit of time even for those who have been in the program since the spring. My personal feeling (and I may find out later today that I am wrong) is that Ogletree would be unlikely to play Sunday in Dallas, but after the Week 8 bye, he might be an option to help fill Cruz's role of slot receiver.
This is what our Lions reporter Mike Rothstein had to say about Ogletree in an email Tuesday night:
Good speed. Good hands. Decent route runner. The coaches in Detroit really liked him initially, and he ran with the first group throughout spring workouts and training camp. It looked like he was going to win the No. 3 receiver role and have a big part in the Lions' offense until the first week of the season against the Giants, when he was inactive. After that he never saw time with Detroit and got shuffled off pretty quick. Once the Lions had secondary issues, he got cut in favor of Ryan Broyles, although both of them were inactive the first two weeks of the year.
He has the capability of a big game; Giants fans will remember that from "Monday Night Football" to open the 2012 season when he had eight catches for 114 yards and two scores. He's mostly a complementary guy but has the ability to make some plays if given enough opportunity. That opportunity was just no longer there in Detroit with Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and all the running backs.
Seems like a pretty good rundown to me. He's obviously not the same caliber of player as Cruz, but that kind of player isn't available on the free-agent market in mid-October. So it's worth taking a shot on someone like Ogletree in case he can help.
If Ogletree is not up to speed in time to play Sunday, my expectation is that Preston Parker would handle the slot, as he did Sunday night when Cruz went out. However, Giants coaches have been discussing this for two days and may come up with more creative solutions due to the sudden personnel shortage. Maybe they don't use as many three-wide receiver sets as they have been. Maybe they use multiple tight ends more or lean on that power run game with fullback Henry Hynoski on the field. Maybe rookie Odell Beckham can handle multiple receiver spots and be moved around, though they see him as primarily a speed threat on the outside.
We'll find out more as the week goes on, but the Giants' offense is going to have to do some juggling and make some changes. Swapping in Ogletree for Cruz is no instant fix. This is where coaches earn their money.