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Terrell: Risk vs. Reward

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  • Terrell: Risk vs. Reward

    With Owens, Eagles getting an undeniable receiving gem but also potential headaches


    July 4, 2004

    PHILADELPHIA -- It is a few minutes after practice, and Terrell Owens is sitting on a black leather couch, telling a visitor why he thinks it's too late to change his image as one of the NFL's most controversial players.

    Speaking barely above a whisper, he seems nothing like the trash-talker he was labeled as during his days with the San Francisco *****. Now with the Philadelphia Eagles, he leans back on the couch in an office at their training complex and shakes his head.

    "No matter what I do, it's not going to change," the 30-year- old receiver said. "I've got a negative image with the public and people think, 'This guy's a bad guy.'"

    Great receiver. Bad guy. Owens cannot separate the two, even though he desperately wants to be known as the former, not the latter.

    "That's what I'm stuck with," Owens said. "I'm a monster on the field, but people think I'm a monster off the field, too. I don't think people really know me until they're around me. When they hang out with me, they'll pull me aside and say: 'I don't get it. I don't see why people say you're this way. You're a cool dude.' People expect something different."

    Eagles receiver Todd Pinkston certainly expected something different. He expected to see a chronic complainer, a guy who bullies his teammates and snarls at his coaches.

    "No, it's nothing like that," Pinkston said. "He had this reputation as an 'I-want-the-ball' type of guy, but he hasn't been like that at all. If you see his work ethic, you'll know. It's not like the reputation he had in San Francisco."

    Owens is a star receiver who makes terrific catches and scores highlight-reel touchdowns, but his flamboyant celebrations and sideline tantrums have given him a me-first reputation that he believes has unfairly tainted his legacy.

    To Owens and those who know him best, he is a complex man whose combative behavior on game day belies a gentle and charitable personality off the field. They know he is a gifted athlete whose continual search for attention and admiration goes back to a time when he was ready to quit the sport as a teenager because he almost never got a chance to play on his high school team.

    He defies easy description.

    Already on notice

    Even so, a new team, a new contract and a new outlook on his NFL future probably won't change things for Owens, who forced the trade that sent him from the ***** to the Eagles in March. He understands that the first time he complains about not getting enough passes from quarterback Donovan McNabb, or the first time he disagrees publicly with coach Andy Reid, or the first time he follows up a touchdown with one of his attention-getting celebrations, he will re-ignite the criticism that has followed him since he blossomed into an All-Pro receiver in 2000.

    "People are going to pry, and they're going to be looking for something," he said. "That's the way it is. I understand that. I don't like it, but I understand it. I just try to be honest with my opinions but it always seems to come out wrong."

    There already have been a few Owens moments in Philadelphia. Such as the time he complained about Reid's rule prohibiting players from wearing form-fitting sweat pants without shorts during practice. With the *****, Owens routinely worked out in sweats without shorts.

    "My biggest adjustment isn't the new team or the plays, but wearing shorts over my tights," Owens said when he learned of Reid's rule. "What does that have to do with how I practice? I understand having structure, and I guess that is him making a statement. I don't have any problem with that, but it's a big adjustment."

    Or how about the comments he made a few weeks ago during minicamp, when he suggested he needed to get more work during seven-on-seven drills? Owens-bashers took it as more public whining, but Owens insists there was a perfectly logical explanation for his remarks.

    "I was just trying to get on the same page with Donovan," Owens said. "If people want to see the touchdowns that they're expecting from me, then that's what I'm working hard for in practice. That's where I was coming from. It was a positive thing for me, but it turned into a negative thing when it came out. Granted, I've got a fresh start here, but I've got to realize that people are going to pry. They're going to try to find something, and maybe I've been too trusting. I'm going to have to be careful in what I say."

    He realizes this is the price for what has gone before.

    It is what happens when you are suspended by your coach for igniting a fight with the Dallas Cowboys by dancing on the star at Texas Stadium - not once, but twice - after scoring touchdowns.

    It's what happens when you incur the wrath of NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue for scoring a touchdown in a nationally televised game, pulling a Sharpie out of your sock, autographing the ball and handing it to a business acquaintance in the stands.

    It's what happens when you berate your offensive coordinator on the sideline after a failure to convert on a fourth-and-1 running play during a blowout loss.

    "I have people from all walks of life come up to me and say they enjoy what I'm doing and how I play, but everybody keeps saying I'm this terrible, selfish guy, so that's what people think of me," Owens said.

    "I hate to bring other guys into it, but [former ***** quarterback] Steve Young argued with the coach constantly. [Receiver] Jerry Rice did the same thing constantly. [Raiders quarterback] Rich Gannon did it where you could tell what he was saying, and it wasn't pleasant words.

    "But when I come here to Philadelphia, it's all the media kept asking me: What if you have a blowup with your coach like you did during the Minnesota game? That's how I'm always going to be remembered."

    The beratee

    Greg Knapp isn't so sure. It was Knapp who was on the receiving end of Owens' sideline diatribe last Sept. 28, an incident that was caught on television and continually replayed for several days. Surely the next time Owens gets into a spat on the sideline, it will be replayed again. But Knapp, now the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator, said the incident should be taken in context.

    "Once he apologized to me the next time we saw each other, it became a non-issue," Knapp said. "It's part of the heat of the battle. It was a tough situation and we weren't doing well. Knowing how he plays the game, it's part of his makeup. He plays the game angry.

    "Look, that wasn't the first time I've been yelled at on the sidelines. Steve Young and Jerry Rice were yelling all the time, so it wasn't as much of a shock to me when Terrell did it as it was perceived by others. Terrell Owens and I are fine. It's just one of those things that was run over and over and over."

    The best friend

    Teron Cooper might have an explanation for what makes Owens so hard to understand and so difficult to define. The man known as "Coop" befriended Owens long before his first NFL touchdown celebration, when Owens was a receiver at Tennessee-Chattanooga in the mid-1990s. He now is Owens' closest friend.

    "T.O. is the most competitive guy I've ever met," Cooper said. "Whether it's playing football, shooting pool or playing cards, he's competitive. He likes to talk junk, to let the other person know he's better than you and you can't do anything about that. So when I see him on the field, he's having fun. There are guys who think he should just score and give the ball to the ref. But that's boring. That's not what got him to where he was."

    Cooper also knows how driven Owens was to become a superior player.

    "The first two years, he was just doing average stuff, but toward the end of his sophomore year, he started lifting weights really hard," Cooper said. "He became a weight-room rat. He'd come back from a party and lift weights at 3 a.m. It got to the point where he asked the coach for a key because he was in there so much. Toward the end of his senior year, people started to realize he had the talent to play in the NFL."

    Riding the pine

    Owens almost didn't make it that far. A benchwarmer during his early years at Benjamin Russell High in Alexander City, Ala., Owens was ready to quit the team during his junior season. Besides, it was basketball that Owens really loved.

    "At some point, you just get tired practicing every day and you're not reaping the benefits of it," Owens said. "You're just out there to make the team look bigger. I told the coach I wanted to quit, and he brought me and my mom in the next day at 7 a.m. for a meeting. The coach urged her to encourage me not to quit, and he basically said he wasn't going to let me quit."

    Owens' mother remembers. She had to take off a few hours from her morning shift at Russell Athletic, the town's biggest employer. It was one of two jobs she worked to support her four children.

    "Being someone who had to work so hard to keep her family going, I understand there are times when you've got to take stuff from other people," Marilyn Heard said. "Sometimes you've just got to suck it up, but I think it got to a point for Terrell that he didn't want that. So I would tell him, 'They want you to give up. Sometimes people think very little of you.' But he decided to keep playing and it was a good thing. He always wanted to be something, and he always said he was going to be somebody. It was kind of like a fantasy or a dream."

    Quiet child

    Owens didn't have a demonstrative personality on the field while growing up, mostly because he rarely got a chance to play. In fact, he was a relatively quiet child who was extremely close to his mother and grandmother, Alice Black. It was the relationship with Black that eventually prompted Owens to become involved with charitable work for the Alzheimer's Foundation.

    "When he was growing up, Terrell was quiet and humble, yet a caring person," Owens' mother said. "He always wanted to go outside and play, but he helped me take care of my two younger children, who were about 10 years younger than him. I was having to work a second job, and being the older child of the family, Terrell grew up fast."

    Owens spent time with his grandmother while his mother worked, and the two grew extremely close. Soon after Owens went to college, he noticed that his grandmother often repeated herself during the same conversation.

    "I just thought it was my grandmother being my grandmother," he said. "Every time I came home, she wanted to buy me something. She pretty much said the same thing."

    By the time Owens was drafted in the third round by the ***** in 1996, Black had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. She now is 69 and living at an assisted-living facility in Alexander City. She does not know a thing about Owens' NFL career.

    Last month, only days after Ronald Reagan died of complications related to Alzheimer's, Owens hosted a weekend charity event to benefit the Atlanta Chapter of the National Alzheimer's Foundation. Owens also has testified before Congress to increase funding for Alzheimer's research.

    "That's the hardest thing for me to deal with, because she was there for me for so many years," Owens said. "I'm a lot like my grandmother in so many ways. I just take pride in whatever I'm doing, and to me, it's extra special that I've achieved success.

    "My grandmother always told me to be my own person, to be truthful to myself, and I think that's what I've done."

    The new weapon

    In a recent minicamp practice, McNabb hooked up with Owens for a long touchdown, prompting teammates and Eagles scouts to cheer. Tight end Chad Lewis pulled Owens aside. "He told me he hasn't seen something like that around here lately," Owens said.

    No, he hasn't. The Eagles haven't had a receiving threat like Owens since the days of Harold Carmichael. At 6-3, 226 pounds and with 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash, Owens offers the kind of dynamic play that the Eagles' offense has lacked. His presence is a major reason the team is favored by many to reach the Super Bowl after three straight losses in the NFC Championship Game.

    Even in practice, you notice the difference in the offense.

    "Just going against our defense [in practice], you can see how some of the guys pay a little more attention to T.O. because he is the focal point right now," McNabb said. "It's not that you can just focus on T.O. Once you begin to focus on him, that's going to leave one or two guys open on the back side or maybe the same side. If you do that, you're taking a risk."

    Owens hasn't made any demands of McNabb or Reid - at least not yet - but the Eagles insist they will employ a balanced offensive attack that will not rely almost exclusively on Owens the way the ***** did.

    "When you're playing against our offense," McNabb said, "we have [tight ends] L.J. Smith and Chad Lewis. We have [receivers] Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell. We have [running backs] Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter in the backfield.

    "What I'll continue to do is take what the defense gives me. I'm not going to try to force anything in there," he said. "I'm going to make sure that I'm reading my keys and going through my progressions like I'm supposed to. If there are opportunities for [Owens] to be one-on-one vs. a defender, I'll take advantage of it."

    Reid, who is ultraconservative when it comes to tipping his hand about the offense, acknowledges that Owens offers the big-play capability the Eagles have lacked. "There are certain things with Terrell that we can do that maybe we didn't do before," he said. "Therefore, you gain a couple of extra plays in there that you can do. That's not slighting the other guys a bit. Every player has the ability to do that. But yes, there are some things we can do."

    Odd route to Philly

    Owens had hoped to reach the Eagles in much simpler fashion, but his agent, David Joseph, failed to submit the proper documentation to void the final year of his ***** contract.

    Owens initially was traded to the Baltimore Ravens for a second-round draft choice, but he protested the trade and requested that his case be decided through arbitration. Once it appeared that Owens had a stronger case than many legal experts had thought, a three-way trade among Baltimore, San Francisco and Philadelphia landed Owens with the Eagles.

    It will be interesting to see just how Reid deploys Owens, and whether he can keep the Pro Bowl receiver happy. Any advice from fellow coaches?

    "The fact that T.O. actively went after the Philadelphia deal spells trouble for the rest of the NFL. He wants to be there and will buy into the program," said Falcons coach Jim Mora Jr., who was the *****' defensive coordinator when Owens played there. "I talked to Andy Reid. I told him that communication is the key. Communicating constantly will earn his trust."

    Owens doesn't anticipate any major flare-ups. Then again, he doesn't plan on keeping his feelings private.

    "It's all part of the game, things I went through with Steve Young and Jeff Garcia with the Niners," Owens said. "Everything's not going to be perfect. But I'm just not going to blow up at any moment."

    Owens was seen in any number of ***** games gesturing toward teammates and coaches, but he often was accused of being critical when he actually was trying to be supportive.

    "We were playing against Arizona [last season] and our kicker, Owen Pochman, missed a field goal," Owens said. "We probably could have won the game if he'd made it, but I went over to him, and through my body language, people said I was ripping him. But I was picking him up, saying, 'Don't worry about it. You'll make the next one.'

    "We're playing a game against Cincinnati [in 2003] and [running back] Kevan Barlow fumbled. I just said, 'Don't worry about it.' But my body language looked like I was ripping him. Coaches know what was going on. I can't win for losing."

    Knapp said Owens' antics often are misinterpreted as anger rather than passion.

    "There were a lot of times where he was giving positive words of encouragement, but he shows so much expression in his face and his non-verbal communication that it can come off the wrong way." Knapp said. "He's had his moments in the past, but that's part of his deal. I respect the heck out of what he can do, and I enjoyed working with him because of his passion."

    'Creative' expression

    Oh, in case you're wondering, the celebrations will continue. Just not in the way he might have wanted, as the NFL has cracked down on celebrations.

    "The things I've done are creative, and I haven't been penalized for any of them," Owens said. "They've made up some rules after the fact. The only time was when I got suspended [in 2000], but that was by my coach, not the league. That's when Mooch [former ***** coach Steve Mariucci] and I got off on the wrong foot. I felt like he didn't really have my back and trust me, and I felt he was pressured into it. I don't think the league was going to suspend me."

    Reid doesn't think there will be a problem with Owens' emotional personality, and the coach even joked about liking one of his touchdown celebrations - the one in which he grabbed the pompons of a cheerleader and danced.

    "T.O. is a very intense, very hard-working football player who will help the Philadelphia Eagles," Reid said. "He's a great football player, and that's really all I'm concerned about. I think we both understand each other."

    Owens' new teammates are delighted to have him around, even the ones who might see less action because of his presence.

    "He can help us get to the next level," said Pinkston, who was the Eagles' deep threat before Owens' arrival. "Teams now have to do different things to get ready for us. I'm always learning from him. You can see him do so many things, so many moves to get open."

    But what about the me-first, trash-talking reputation?

    "People get confused between a guy's love of the game and trash-talking," said Mitchell, an avowed trash-talker himself. "The media puts it as ****y, but I don't think it's that way at all. The bottom line: When T.O. is on the field, he's probably one of the best receivers in the game right now. You've got to account for him. He draws a lot of attention and helps everyone else around him."

    Owens believes the upside in his new team is unlimited and that a Super Bowl championship is within reach. He's not as optimistic about the legacy he'll leave behind.

    "Obviously, if we win a Super Bowl, some things will change," Owens said. "But why not now? Why can't people give me my respect now for all I've done? If we win a Super Bowl, it's like jumping on the bandwagon. All I want is my due respect. Right now, I don't feel like I get it. There's always something negative to say."

    T.O.'s greatest hits

    Terrell Owens' controversial NFL career has been marked by several high-profile incidents:

    Sept. 24, 2000: In a 41-24 win over Dallas, Owens celebrated two touchdown receptions by dancing on the Cowboys' star at midfield at Texas Stadium. The second celebration precipitated a melee. Niners coach Steve Mariucci suspended Owens without pay for the next game.

    Oct. 14, 2002: In a Monday night game in Seattle, Owens scored on a pass from quarterback Jeff Garcia, pulled a pen out of his sock, autographed the ball and gave it to a business acquaintance in the stands. He was not fined for the incident, though he drew a $5,000 fine for not having his shirt tucked in. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said subsequent celebrations will be penalized by a fine.

    Dec. 15, 2002: In a 20-14 loss to Green Bay in San Francisco, Owens pulled the ***** to within a field goal with a 45-yard touchdown catch, then grabbed a pair of pompons from a ***** cheerleader and danced in the end zone.

    Sept. 28, 2003: In a 35-7 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, ***** offensive coordinator Greg Knapp called a running play on fourth-and-1. The third-quarter play was stopped for no gain, and Owens went to the sideline, screaming at Knapp. The confrontation was caught on television.

Related Topics


  • DJRamFan
    [Eagles] Owens: Other Players Will Step Up
    by DJRamFan
    December 20, 2004

    He spoke for 5 minutes, 26 seconds. "This is T.O.," he said, announcing that the conference call was live and ready to begin.
    Terrell Owens always knows how to make an entrance.

    He isn't ready to say he's making an exit from the 2004 season, either. Owens sounded ready to do anything possible to make it back to the playing field should the Eagles be fortunate enough to win two playoff games and advance to the Super Bowl on Feb. 6 in Jacksonville, FL.

    "I feel like I'm a pretty good healer. I'll see how my body responds to all of that," said Owens as reporters and television cameras crowded around a speaker phone in the media room at the NovaCare Complex on Monday.

    WR Terrell Owens is taking the positive approach to his recovery
    "Believe me, I'm already on top of that. I've already moved my hyperbaric chamber down to my living room. I'll be in that trying to get myself back on the field as soon as I can. I'm going to be smart about the situation."

    Owens spent most of his Monday being poked, prodded and tested. His right anke, deemed sprained on Sunday, was targeted for surgery less than 24 hours later.

    After an early-morning MRI at the NovaCare Complex, Owens was taken to Baltimore to visit ankle specialist Dr. Mark Myerson.

    There he found out the injury was far more serious than a simple sprain.

    "I went down there optimistic, kind of hoping for the best and I got the worst of news," said Owens. "But, things happen and you've just got to move on from it. I'm just sad from the standpoint of not being there with the guys in the playoffs. I know these next two games are sort of meaningless, but not really.

    "My thing was, I was really looking forward to the playoffs, really trying to get this team to the Super Bowl. I think that without me they can still achieve that goal.

    Owens took the time to speak with quarterback Donovan McNabb, wide receivers Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell, head coach Andy Reid and safety Brian Dawkins before talking to reporters.

    "I wanted to let those guys know that I'm behind them. I'm going to be their biggest cheerleader. Coach Reid called me earlier today," said Owens. "It's just something that is unfortunate at the wrong time."

    And yet ...

    "It doesn't stop with me. Just like when guys went down early in the season. (Defensive end N.D.) Kalu went down weeks before trainign camp. Somebody has to step in ... everybody has to step up. There's no reason for everybody to get down, no reason for the City of Philadelphia to get down because I'm not there.

    "Obviously, my presence will be missed, but we have the guys that can get it done. I truly mean that."
    -12-21-2004, 10:44 AM
  • RamWraith
    More Ownes stuff
    by RamWraith
    Reid says T.O. will stay away until issue is settled

    BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid called the ejection of Terrell Owens from training camp in-house business, adding the tempestuous wide receiver would not be permitted back to camp until the two of them fully discuss the problem.

    Owens said he was just happy to have a week off.

    "I'm going to work with T.O. and only T.O.," Reid said Thursday in his first comments since Owens was sent home Wednesday.

    That was about all Reid said despite numerous questions on a variety of subjects about the playmaking, showboating Owens, who was asked to leave camp Wednesday after a heated exchange with Reid.

    Owens, meanwhile, emerged from his house in Moorestown, N.J., after noon on Thursday, signing autographs to the delight of several dozen fans who passed the time throwing footballs and yelling Eagles chants in his suburban cul de sac. Owens told reporters he had not spoken to the team.

    "Why would I talk to them? They gave me a week off," he said.

    When asked why he had the time off, Owens remained elusive.

    "What do you think?" he said. "You are asking a dumb question right now."

    Owens and agent Drew Rosenhaus -- who had arrived in midmorning -- departed for what the agent said was lunch and a meeting.

    Suddenly, Owens pulling a Sharpie from his sock or posing on the Cowboys' star seems downright tame.

    On Wednesday, Owens told Comcast SportsNet that his ejection by Reid "was just a difference of opinion. I was defending myself."

    Defending himself from what, it's not exactly clear.

    Owens refused to say what the argument was about, and the Eagles issued only a brief statement saying Owens was not expected to return to the team until next Wednesday.

    But this was the risk the Eagles were willing to take last year when they traded for Owens because they thought he could help them win a Super Bowl.

    Now comes this.

    For the fifth time in six days, Owens did not practice Wednesday because of a groin injury suffered last week. Instead, he worked out with the assistant trainer for about 20 minutes, catching balls from a machine and doing some light running. He did not speak to reporters or acknowledge the fans who chanted his name.

    Between sessions -- the Eagles had a special teams practice Wednesday afternoon that Owens was not required to attend -- Owens and Reid started arguing during a meeting.

    Reid asked the injured Owens to leave after their discussion, according to Rosenhaus, and Owens' publicist, Kim Etheredge.

    Owens then got his belongings and cleared out of training camp at Lehigh University.

    "If the truth needs to be told, then...
    -08-11-2005, 01:07 PM
  • Nick
    What a surprise, TO is unhappy in Philly
    by Nick

    Owens at it again
    Wideout unhappy with production prior to injury, knocks teammates
    Posted: Thursday January 6, 2005 1:09PM; Updated: Thursday January 6, 2005 4:47PM

    It's bad enough that Eagles fans had to suffer through a pair of in-season exhibition games and a bye week before finding out whether this year's playoff's will heap more misery on them. It's even worse that their team must work its way toward Super Bowl XXXIX (as participants this time, not ticketholders) without primary weapon Terrell Owens. Now, they have to confront the year's first stench of real controversy. And El Hombre isn't talking about naked Housewives.

    Wednesday, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and loud NBA analyst Stephen A. Smith set out for T.O.'s house to write the "Rehabbing Star Works Toward Return" story. Instead, he was treated to the first Philadelphia performance of "Terrell Owens, Frustrated Egomaniac." During the course of what seemed to be a lengthy sit-down, Owens gave fans real hope that should the Eagles end their Buffalo Bills JV imitation and actually reach the Big Game, he'll be there, in pads, ready to go. "It's looking better and better," he told Smith.

    Excellent. Keep doing those ankle exercises, Terrell. We're all rooting for you.

    Then came the napalm. Seems the last five games in which Owens played (including the Dec. 19 tilt against the Cowchips in which he was injured) weren't happy ones for the wide receiver. OK, so he did have some fun against Green Bay, catching eight passes for 161 yards and a touchdown. But the rest of it left him "frustrated as to how my production had gone down."

    There it is, folks. Anyone who had the "over" in the Terrell Owens Bad Teammate pool had better pay up. By the time he had finished speaking with Smith, T.O. had reverted to the form that had made him such a favorite with quarterbacks and offensive coaches in San Francisco. He complained about not getting the ball enough, even though the Eagles raged to a 13-1 record while he was available. He revealed that he could have "said more" about it, too, but kept his mouth shut to promote harmony. Thanks, Terrell! He even issued a "be careful what you wish for" warning to fellow wideouts Freddie Mitchell and Todd Pinkston, who must now step up, after (unhappily) playing supporting roles throughout the year. Though Owens tried to wrap it all up in a tidy "we're a team in everything we do" package, he couldn't stop himself from spewing enough toxins to make a testy run-up to what could be another postseason disaster even more tense.

    Now, Smith reports that Owens "went out of his way to give both QB Donovan McNabb and coach Andy Reid credit" -- as if lauding a Pro Bowl quarterback...
    -01-09-2005, 09:58 AM
  • Milan
    Owens at it YET again!
    by Milan
    Nov 6 Mark Eckel, of the Trenton Times, reports Philadelphia Eagles WR Terrell Owens had a fistfight with former defensive end and current team ambassador Hugh Douglas. The fight occurred in front of several of his teammates. According to one of the sources the Owens-Douglas fight "was like WWE Smackdown." Another source said both men threw at least two punches during the altercation and when it was over Owens challenged QB Donovan McNabb first and then everyone else in the room saying, "You want some. Anyone else want some." The Eagles refused to comment about the situation, other than the statement that revealed Owens' suspension. Owens and Douglas have been at odds since training camp and almost got into an altercation in an elevator at Lehigh University.

    - Yahoo Sports.

    -11-06-2005, 11:29 AM
  • psycho9985
    T.O. back in Camp
    by psycho9985
    returns to training campBy ROB MAADDI, AP Sports Writer

    document.write(getElapsed("20050817T231125Z"));4 hours agoUPDATED 2 HOURS 34 MINUTES AGO
    PHILADELPHIA - Terrell Owens ran routes, caught passes and joked around with his Philadelphia Eagles teammates - quite a different T.O. from the one booted out of training camp a week ago.
    This Terrell Owens smiled, laughed and even tutored some of the younger receivers on the sidelines Wednesday.
    ``He was fine today. He did a great job,'' said coach Andy Reid, who gave the All-Pro wideout the heave-ho and told him not to come back for a week.
    The new Terrell Owens, however, still couldn't bring himself to talk to the player he needs to be in sync with the most: Donovan McNabb.
    For the first time, McNabb - who has maintained his sense of humor throughout the ordeal - said he anticipated talking to Owens at some point.
    ``I think it's going to happen. I look forward to it happening,'' McNabb said. ``But, again, when we get to that situation, then that's when we will handle it. I think what we are doing right now is easing into everything and just going out and working, trying to answer some of the questions one of us may have and then be able to work in the confines of our own football field.''
    The running feud between quarterback and receiver was set aside while they were on the field, at least. The two stood next to each other in the huddle at times, across from each other at others, and appeared to communicate between plays. But they also stood side-by-side while stretching at the end of practice - and didn't say a word.
    Owens ran precise routes and caught crisp passes from McNabb. All that was missing were high-fives and hugs.
    ``He works hard out there on the field. We were able to make some big plays,'' McNabb said.
    Owens met briefly with Reid before practice, a condition for his return. He didn't answer questions from reporters after the morning practice.
    ``It was a good meeting,'' Reid said, avoiding questions about particulars. ``He did a nice job. He worked very hard.''
    Owens, again wearing camouflage and listening to oversized headphones, arrived at Philadelphia's practice facility at 7:27 a.m. He was greeted by several dozen fans, some holding signs, including one that read ``TO must go'' - the same message carried on a radio station-sponsored banner trailing an airplane that flew near the practice field.
    Owens jogged onto the field shortly before the morning session began at 8:45. He missed several practices with a groin injury before he was sent home last week, so Reid limited his reps to avoid aggravating the injury.
    The NFC champions are hoping Owens isn't a distraction the rest of camp and into the season. The Eagles didn't allow Owens' antics to disrupt them last year, though he had a better relationship with McNabb, Reid and just about everyone else.
    ``I can't sit here and try...
    -08-17-2005, 08:28 PM