Kevin Ogletree and Dwayne Harris were on the field Monday. The two receivers ran routes and worked to get open. But they didn’t have anything left to prove. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said so Tuesday on KRLD-FM (105.3).
“I’d say as I look at them right now, they both have a place on the field for us against the Giants,” Jones said, referring to the team’s opponent for the regular-season opener next Wednesday.
But what about the other five wideouts who were competing for jobs? Where did Danny Coale, Saalim Hakim, Cole Beasley, Tim Benford and Andre Holmes stand? And could they make a great enough impact in the final preseason game against Miami to claim a spot on the team?
PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Andre Holmes (15) catches a deep ball vs. Miami Dolphins – STAR-TELEGRAM/RON JENKINS
On Wednesday, in the Cowboys’ 30-13 victory over Miami in their final preseason game, few answers were provided. Beasley, identified as the most promising of the bunch during training camp, didn’t make a catch. Then again, he didn’t play that much, which seemed to be a good sign he could be sticking around.
“Hopefully,” Beasley said. “But if some of the other guys might have stepped up, they might forget about me.”
That’s now not a concern for Beasley because while Hakim, Coale, Benford and Holmes recorded at least one reception, they didn’t do anything especially noteworthy Wednesday. Together they made just six catches for 107 yards and no touchdowns.
“I put everything out there,” said Holmes, who had one reception for 32 yards and felt tightness in his right knee. “I just went as hard as I could.”
How much does Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones like Ronald Leary? Enough to guarantee the undrafted free agent guard $214,000 in signing bonus and base salary in 2012, according to NFL Players Association figures.
It’s a staggering amount of money for a player with a knee condition that worried the Cowboys – and other teams – so much that he wasn’t selected. The Cowboys liked what Leary was able to do in the organized team activities and minicamp and gave him some snaps with the first-team offense at times.
The Cowboys paid Leary a $9,000 signing bonus and guaranteed $205,000 of his $390,000 rookie base salary. If Leary does not make the team, then he would still get his money. The Cowboys had to fend off at least one other team from signing Leary, who was projected as a mid- to late-round pick if not for the injury.
The guaranteed money falls in line with what Indianapolis’ Josh Chapman received as the top pick of the fifth round with a signing bonus of $215,512. Danny Coale, the Cowboys’ fifth rounder and No. 152 overall, received a signing bonus of $190,052.
Leary wasn’t the only undrafted free agent to receive a guaranteed portion of his base salary. The Cowboys will pay wide receiver Tim Benford $20,000 and long snapper Charley Hughlett $10,000. Wide receiver Saleem Hakim received the highest signing bonus among the college free agents at $10,000 and will also receive $7,500 in base salary.
Teams were limited in how much signing bonus they could give their undrafted free agents, which meant a number of teams also offered portions of guaranteed salary to entice players to sign.
WIDE RECEIVER ROSTER RACE: Dwayne Harris, better versed in playbook, expects tough competition in training camp
Dwayne "Hairy” Harris said he expects a tough competition for the receiver spots in training camp.
The second-year receiver, a sixth-round pick out of East Carolina a year ago, is in the running with Kevin Ogletree, Andre Holmes, Raymond Radway and Danny Coale, at a minimum, for the third, fourth and fifth receiver spots, if the Cowboys keep that many.
But the Cowboys will also have three undrafted rookies in camp, Donavon Kemp, Tim Benford and Saalim Hakim.
That’s a lot of competition for three spots behind Miles Austin and Diamond Dez Bryant.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said Thursday at Cowboys Stadium after the final minicamp practice of the offseason. “Everybody wants a roster spot. Everybody wants to show the coaches what they can do. I wouldn’t expect anybody to come out here and not give their all. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be fun.”
Harris allowed himself a bit of a smile at that thought. He’s already been through a training camp and won a job. He did it last year, making the team after averaging 23 yards on six catches in the preseason, including a 76-yard touchdown.
This year, he’ll have more of a head start, thanks to the OTAs and minicamp he didn’t have last year.
“Every day I got a little better, progressed every day,” he said. “My knowledge of the playbook got better every day. I think just the whole offseason helped out a lot. Last year, we didn’t have this much time to learn the playbook. It was harder for the rookies coming in. I think this year made it easier for everybody.”
Harris did not catch a pass in the regular season last year. He returned 15 punts and eight kickoffs. His 28.9 average on kickoff returns led the team.