In Dallas debut, Owens lets actions do talking

Wide receiver diplomatic in defeat

'Skins' Rumph could draw coverage task

Ravens & Nfl

September 14, 2006|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun reporter

There were no wild post-catch celebrations or post-game histrionics, no finger-pointing at opponents after making them look bad or at his teammates for not making him look great.

At least for one week, his first official game with the Dallas Cowboys, T.O. simply stood for Terrell Owens and not Totally Outrageous or Terribly Obnoxious or, perhaps, Ticking (Everybody) Off.

Owens caught six passes for 80 yards and a touchdown in a 24-17 loss at Jacksonville on Sunday, had two other receptions for 31 yards called back because of penalties and would have had a few more if Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe found Owens when he was wide-open.

Not bad for a player who was suspended for the second half of last season in Philadelphia, missed minicamp in Dallas after signing a three-year, $25 million contract, then sat out 21 days of training camp and played only 19 snaps in the preseason due to a lingering hamstring strain. Many, including his own coach, thought at the time that Owens was malingering.

"For him to come in without having a whole lot of time and be as effective as he was says a lot about him and how, even though he was hurt, he was paying a lot of attention to what was going on and learning the offense while he was out of practice," Bledsoe said during a teleconference yesterday.

Said Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, who reportedly wasn't thrilled when team owner Jerry Jones signed Owens: "I really didn't know what to expect. He practiced well for two weeks and he looked like he was pretty well ready to go, and he was ready to go."

As the Cowboys get ready to host the Washington Redskins Sunday night in a nationally televised game at Texas Stadium, Owens is doing things a little differently than he did last year in Philadelphia, where a falling out with quarterback Donovan McNabb and coach Andy Reid led to his suspension and ultimately to his departure from the Eagles after two tumultuous seasons.

Bledsoe said he didn't think Owens' training camp shenanigans -- including riding an exercise bike dressed as if he were taking on the Alps in the Tour de France -- caused any distractions for the Cowboys as they prepared for the 2006 season.

"It probably seems like more of a distraction from the outside than it does from the inside," Bledsoe said. "We see this guy around the locker room that's laughing and joking and working hard at practice once he got healthy. The public perception is much different. He's a guy that's got an infectious personality and tries to bring people up along with him."

At least for now, Owens seems to be trying to not cause any rifts with his quarterback, which happened not only with McNabb but with a number of his teammates in San Francisco, most notably Jeff Garcia.

Asked about the passes that didn't reach him Sunday, Owens was uncharacteristically diplomatic.

"That's the nature of the game," he said afterward. `There are going to be missed opportunities. It's obviously something that we're going to work on. It's a team effort but by no means are we going to hang our heads."

The NFL's most cartoonish character admits to having multiple personalities.

"In the locker room I'm just Terrell," he said recently. "On the field, I'm T.O."

What Owens is demonstrating now for the Cowboys is something former San Francisco teammates -- among them current Redskins Brandon Lloyd and Mike Rumph -- got to see at times during his eight years there. They, along with Redskins defensive end Andre Carter, who played for the 49ers for five years, got to know a different side of Owens that most fans -- and opponents -- are unable to witness.

"I think the most important thing aside from all the antics was probably his work ethic," Lloyd, who was a rookie when he and Owens played together in 2003, recalled before practice yesterday at Redskins Park. Said Rumph, who played with Owens in 2002 and 2003, "You definitely have to bring your lunch box when you go against T.O."

Rumph, who came to the Redskins from San Francisco in a trade for wide receiver Taylor Jacobs last month, could find himself playing against Owens if starting cornerback Shawn Springs (torn abdominal muscle), as expected, still isn't ready to return. He missed Monday's season-opening, 19-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

"He [Owens] looks like he's fit in pretty good," Rumph said. "They kept it pretty basic [against the Jaguars], but I'm sure they have something more for us now that him and the quarterback have had more time to get some more stuff done."

The presence of Owens, who has been selected to the Pro Bowl five times, should help not only the erratic Bledsoe but the rest of an offense that features tailback Julius Jones and wide receiver Terry Glenn.

"He forces a defense to respect him wherever he is on the field," Bledsoe said of Owens. "If they leave him singled [coverage] that's going to be a win for us regardless of who we're playing. They have to commit mostly two guys to playing him, and when that happens, that certainly works in our favor."

NOTES -- The Redskins signed safety Curry Burns, a former member of the team's practice squad, after losing safety Pierson Prioleau for the season with a knee injury. ... Running back Clinton Portis, who carried 10 times for 39 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings after missing all but one series of the preseason with a partially dislocated left shoulder, took part in limited drills yesterday but should be ready to play against the Cowboys.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.