If you’ve followed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason, you have undoubtedly heard about some of the players making their case for a roster spot on the small stage of One Buc Place’s practice fields. Chris Owusu has been drawing rave reviews from many Buccaneers’ media members as he grabbed passes all over the place during the first weeks of training camp. He was leaping, diving, and catching balls from Josh Freeman, Mike Glennon, and even Dan Orlovsky and winning over the hearts and minds of those watching from the sidelines.
And then Thursday night happened.
When Owusu put on his full NFL gear and stepped out under the lights at Raymond James Stadium, he fell flat on his face, dropping passes and punts and running poor routes before leaving the game with an injury on his only truly positive play of the game. He did not continue his impressive play when it really mattered, and proved that his lack of experience might be holding back the talent he obviously possesses.
Kevin Ogletree, however, had failed to stand out in practices, showing a capable route running ability but not making flash plays that stood out to any media in attendance. But when the full gear was on and the starters took to the field in the preseason opener, Ogletree was among the first on the field, and definitely impressed in his brief playing time.
Ogletree, the former Dallas Cowboy wideout, made a handful of catches, but notably hauled in two passes while being covered by Ravens’ starting corner Corey Graham according to Pro Football Focus’ charting statistics. He also evaded tackles, and logged an impressive set of 30 snaps before heading to the sideline. His 5 catches for 65 yards were a sign of what’s to come for the man who looks miles ahead of the rest in the race to be the Buccaneers’ third receiver.
Many touted Ogletree as a one-week wonder after his breakout performance for the Cowboys during the opening weekend of football in 2012 turned out to be his only big game of the season. But Ogletree is a veteran who stayed with the Cowboys for four seasons and eventually carved out a bigger role with the team. Much like Brian Leonard, who is likewise leading the battle for the backup running back position, he’s a savvy player who doesn’t have any remarkable talents, but he’s trustworthy and he’s a known quantity. You can bet that Ogletree is going to be in the right place at the right time, and that he’ll be reliable in terms of catching passes and securing first downs.
So there might be some more flashy plays and impressive moments from Buccaneers’ camp, as fringe players make an impact on the training camp field in an attempt to make the roster. But don’t forget that when the team hits the gridiron and battles another team full of players set on defeating the Bucs, the entire atmosphere changes, and sometimes it takes the wisdom of a veteran to navigate through the pressure. Chris Owusu and many other standout practice players could very well be impact players for the Buccaneers in the future, but for now it seems like experience has trumped flash and hype on the preseason stage.