IRVING, Texas (Sept. 4, 2006) -- T.O. looks like a go for the season opener.
Terrell Owens got in plenty of work during practice Sept. 4, then stayed late to run some extra routes for quarterback Drew Bledsoe. He came away sounding confident that he'll be over his hamstring injury and in the starting lineup when the Dallas Cowboys face the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
"I feel great," he said. "I'm ready to go."
After rising to fame in San Francisco and branding himself in infamy in Philadelphia, Owens goes into his third act in Dallas with everyone watching and waiting to see what will happen next. He admits to feeling that he has something to prove.
"In a sense, yeah," he said. "But at the same time, I'm not going to go out and make it a point. I feel like my play will do it for me."
Owens said he's pretty sure there are people rooting against him. He blames part of it on "things (that) are just untrue" that have been reported about him.
However, when asked what specifically he wanted cleared up, he said, "nothing in particular."
Here's a verified fact: Owens is adjusting to a different offense for the first time. Instead of the West Coast system used by the 49ers and Eagles, the Cowboys play more of a traditional scheme. Coach Bill Parcells values clock management, which usually means more handoffs and fewer passes.
It also means a new playbook to learn, with different terminology and new routes.
While Owens has studied it plenty, he hasn't gotten to practice it much. He missed about 20 workouts and three preseason games because of the hamstring problem.
"I'm not as comfortable," Owens said. "There are times when I feel like I have a little butterflies, just from a little bit of anxiety. I'm really ready to get back on the field and just get back to what I'm used to doing and that's making plays. I'm kind of champing at the bit just a little bit."
It helps that this week's playbook features many plays he says he's very comfortable running.
"They're moving me," he said. "I'm inside, I'm outside, I'm a little bit of everywhere."
Owens also sees the irony in this game being played in Jacksonville, the site of perhaps his greatest moment in the NFL -- the Super Bowl in February 2005.
Playing for Philadelphia, Owens overcame a broken ankle within seven weeks and caught nine passes for 122 yards in a narrow loss to New England. His relationship with the Eagles organization began spinning out of control soon after. He played his last game for them Oct. 30, then signed with Dallas in March.
His first few months with the Cowboys already has had some wild times, from speculation about whether he was using his injury to test Parcells and his other new bosses to a $9,500 fine for being late to work.
Owens joked that is one good thing about not having played in 10 months.
"I'm fresher," Owens said, smiling wide.
"Although I had the hamstring injury, and that kind of set me back a little bit, but I feel like I'm really almost 100 percent from that," Owens said. "It doesn't take much for me to get back in shape."
Parcells said he's preparing two other receivers to handle Owens' role in case his injury flares up again.
"We'll see where we are and what role he can handle," Parcells said. "If he's healthy, I'd be inclined to play him."
Bledsoe and Owens stayed late to work on deep passes so the quarterback could get accustomed to his new receiver's speed. T.O. basically told him to throw it as far as possible and he'd chase it down.
The duo was together for only one series in preseason action, with Bledsoe never throwing a pass to Owens. Still, they were able to begin building the rapport that may be crucial to the team's success this season.
"Drew came and told me, 'It's good to see you out here,"' Owens said.
Owens added that he's getting along great with all of his new teammates.
"We're fine," he said. "I think if you go around and asked the locker room as a whole, I don't feel like we've had any problems. Same when I was in Philly. I don't think we had any problems there. I know not everybody is going to mesh. But when we get on the field, we're one unit."
Tight end Jason Witten said he's happy to have No. 81 as part of that unit.
"His presence is definitely felt," Witten said. "I think he creates a lot, not just for himself but for all of our offense."