Is that Lance? No, it's T.O.!
OXNARD, Calif. -- Terrell Owens wore his new silver and blue uniform Thursday -- just not the one for his employers, the Dallas Cowboys.
This one was for the Discovery Channel pro cycling team, Lance Armstrong's former squad, and he did it as part of a gag poking fun at all the time he's spending on the stationary bicycle.
Owens wore a silver cycling helmet, the jersey and sunglasses for about the first 15 minutes of practice Thursday. It was the eighth day he's been on the bike instead of the field because of a sore left hamstring.
"Tour de Oxnard," Owens repeatedly said as he began pedaling, smiling wide the entire time.
Later, he called it "my little kickoff for the Tour de T.O. Comeback."
"I'm just trying to have fun, trying to make the most of pedaling on that bike every day," said Owens, who missed his 11th straight practice. "It gets boring. So it's something to get my mind off it."
After two vigorous post-practice workouts Wednesday, Owens still wasn't ready to resume catching passes from quarterback Drew Bledsoe, but he did continue pushing himself. He ran some straight-ahead sprints while being tugged by a resistance band, then cut side-to-side during a cone drill, trying it with and without the band.
"Obviously, I'm feeling a little better," he said. "Each day is an improvement. A hamstring injury is not something you jump back into until it feels better. There's a healing process it has to go through. It's a daily process. I'm just trying to take it day-to-day, man."
Owens first felt a twinge Aug. 2. An MRI taken Saturday was clear, but Owens flew in several doctors and trainers, plus a hyperbaric chamber, because he still didn't feel right.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since the MRI, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he never doubted Owens' sincerity. He even used himself as an example, saying that earlier Thursday he had a series of sophisticated X-rays taken to find the source of pain in his mouth. The tests were inconclusive -- but it still hurts and he still may need a root canal.
Jones said he's fine with Owens calling in people he feels comfortable with and that he's confident Owens is "making every effort to prepare for himself opening day."
"In terms of concerns, it's one thing to understand we're missing some time," Jones said. "It's another thing to put this time in perspective. Will we even remember this in mid-September ... or December? My experience has been they're not even remembered by anybody."
Owens has been plotting his latest fashion statement since his first few days on the sideline. As much as he enjoyed the stunt, his initial plan would've been even more eye-catching.
"I couldn't find a yellow jersey. I looked," he said. "This was the best I could come up with. It's cool."
Owens was grinning and giggling from the moment he walked onto the field with a sweatshirt hiding his outfit and the helmet peeking out of a dark towel.
Teammates apparently knew what he was up to because several turned to watch his grand unveiling. Owens took his time, too, first removing his baseball cap then smoothing out the jersey beneath his sweatshirt.
Once he pried off the sweatshirt, he plopped on the helmet and a pair of sunglasses, then soaked in the attention.
"Lance Armstrong!" fellow receiver Skyler Green said.
Green walked over to the bike area to watch the show. Photographers hurried over to capture the moment. From the field, receiver Patrick Crayton stood watching and running back Julius Jones turned to catch a glimpse; both were smiling. Coach Bill Parcells later looked over from midfield without a reaction.
With Owens already declaring himself out for the preseason opener Saturday night in Seattle, and plays having Sunday off, Monday is the soonest he could return to the field.
He wasn't ready to commit to being back then.
"I'm going to take it day by day and see what happens," he said. "I hate to keep sounding redundant, but that's basically how it is."
Dallas' second preseason game is against the New Orleans Saints in Shreveport, La., on Aug. 21. That Monday night game will be televised by ESPN, perhaps giving Owens the forum he enjoys for his first NFL action since Oct. 30, when he was with Philadelphia.
Then again, he may be eyeing an even larger stage.
"You know, right now they don't have an official winner for the Tour de France," he said, laughing. "Maybe I might try to get in it next year."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index