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Owens says expiring contract 'not a problem'

Terrell Owens is talking about his contract again. Only this time, there's a twist.

IRVING, Texas -- Terrell Owens is talking about his contract again. Only this time, there's a twist.

T.O. is happy about it, even though he's going into the third and final year of his deal with the Dallas Cowboys.

"Not a problem," Owens said Wednesday, the first day media was invited to organized team activities. "Honestly, I don't really feel like it's hanging over my head. I just don't really think about it. I haven't thought about it until somebody brought it up.

"I'm not naive to the point of not realizing what type of contract that I signed. It was a three-year deal and I know I'm in my third year. It's a no-brainer. I know what's going on."

Owens followers might be wondering what's going on.

In 2004, Owens was heading into the second year of a seven-year, $48.97 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles when he began squawking about a new deal. He showed up for training camp wearing camouflage, signifying he was at war with the organization, and wound up getting sent home, leading to the bizarre scene of him giving interviews while doing sit-ups in his driveway. The saga dragged on for months, ending with a suspension, then his release.

He signed a three-year, $25 million contract with Dallas in March 2005 and has certainly lived up to it, leading the team in receiving both years while piling up club records. His 28 touchdown catches over the last two seasons are more than any other receiver, and that includes Randy Moss, who set the league record for TDs in a single-season last year.

Guys with Owens' numbers and less ego than Owens might be demanding a raise or an extension, especially the day after their club's owner spent $95 million on two other players.

Yet T.O. would only say that he's happy teammates Marion Barber and Terence Newman got new long-term deals, and that he's content with his situation.

"It's not a big deal," Owens said. "It's not an issue. Honestly, I don't even feel comfortable talking about it because it's not a big deal."

Quarterback Tony Romo said he's not surprised Owens is taking the high road.

"I think you are seeing a change in a guy, a transformation that has taken place over the last four or five years," Romo said. "We're pretty lucky to have it happen here. I enjoy the guy. He's a good teammate. He actually cares about each one of us. He cares about getting better."

Owens might be playing it cool because threats didn't work last time. Or because he knows Jerry Jones' reputation as an owner who takes care of his players, especially his best ones.

Look at Romo. Last year, he was nine games into the final season of his contract when Jones gave him a six-year, $67.5 million deal.

So maybe patience is the way to go, especially with Jones openly saying, "I want Terrell on the team."

"I can look past this year and into years in the future and want Terrell as a part of the Cowboys," Jones said Wednesday. "We're working real hard to put a nucleus of players together here, that are what we call blue players, that's the top echelon of players. And we've got an opportunity under the system to have those players. Terrell is one of the leaders in that category."

While the feelings are mutual, Jones said that's not enough to make a new contract a necessity, especially with owners voting Tuesday to end their labor agreement with the union in 2011.

What about Owens pulling one of his old stunts and turning this minor topic into a major issue?

Won't happen, Jones believes.

"I'm very comfortable," he said. "When he came here, we had a good feeling about the financial aspect of how to work through with him and feel good. I have a good feeling of trust with him."

Owens referred to the midweek practices as "just cardio for me" because he keeps himself in such good shape. At 35, he still looks more fit than guys in their mid-20s, something he takes pride in. The only wrinkle to his training this offseason is doing more work with bands instead of emphasizing traditional weight training.

"I try to do things different to be better," he said. "Sometimes it's not about working harder, it's about working smarter. ... I'm as strong as I'm going to get. My thing is now is trying to perfect my craft and staying injury-free."

He said the bands are easier on his joints and allow him to isolate muscles. Is that a concession to the fact Father Time is chasing him?

"Not me," he said.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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