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Parcells insists T.O.'s injury, fallout is no big deal

OXNARD, Calif. -- Bill Parcells said Tuesday he has no
problem with Terrell Owens bringing in his own experts to help
repair his ailing hamstring.

The Dallas Cowboys coach does have a problem with all the
attention the injury is generating.

With T.O.-related questions again dominating his daily gathering
with reporters, Parcells tried getting off the subject by saying:
"I'm getting the sense that most of the media is just waiting for
something to be controversial in that regard. And I'm here to tell
you, it's not going to happen from me. So you need to get that in
your head. OK?"

When the topic was broached again later, Parcells warned not to
try interpreting his mood on this subject.

"The situation is the same as I told you the other day," he
said. "We are hopeful we can get the work in and get him into the
program and up to speed with what we do as soon as possible. It
hasn't changed. I said it yesterday. I said it today. I said it the
first day. It's not going to change."

Since taking part in the first eight workouts of training camp,
Owens has been on the sidelines for the last eight, including a
scrimmage. Plenty more absences are likely since Owens said Monday
he doubts that he will play in the preseason opener Saturday night
in Seattle.

The pain began last Wednesday. An MRI taken Saturday showed no
problems. He's repeatedly said his status is day-to-day, spending
most of each practice slowly riding a stationary bicycle. He
declined to comment after practice Tuesday.

"If the player is telling you that he has something bothering
him, then you have to give the player the benefit of the doubt,"
Parcells said Tuesday. "At some point in time it's going to be
prohibitive. But that's not now. That shouldn't be the story
today."

The notion that Owens might be stirring things up so early in
training camp is exactly why this is so buzz-worthy.

After his chaotic stints in San Francisco and Philadelphia,
Owens has become a story whether he plays or not, which is likely
among the reasons team owner and marketing whiz Jerry Jones signed
the receiver in March. Jones certainly knew how tantalizing the
combination of this player and this team -- and this coach -- would
be to the masses.

The downside is that the club must deal with ongoing speculation
of when and if Owens would stir things up in Dallas.

A nagging hamstring injury in early August doesn't even crack
the top 10 of Owens incidents -- but little things could be starting
to pile up, such as turning to his own medical team instead of
those provided by the team.

It's worth noting that many of the specialists he's summoned
were among those who helped him recover from an ankle injury to
play in the February 2005 Super Bowl. But he contradicts the new
team-friendly attitude he says he has adopted when he says, "I
have to do what's best for me regardless of what anybody thinks."

Parcells said Owens is not his first player to go beyond the
organization's staff to treat an injury. The coach's viewpoint:
"If that's what he wants to do."

Parcells has often praised Dallas' training staff during his
three-plus seasons, especially with how quickly they've
rehabilitated several injured players. He said Tuesday he's "very
pleased" with them.

Asked what they think of Owens' outside help, he said reporters
would have to ask them. Reminded they are off-limits to reporters,
Parcells said, "Then I guess you're not going to ask them."

Owens' conditioning and competitiveness are not things Parcells
is concerned about. The bigger issue raised by all the lost
practices is that he and quarterback Drew Bledsoe aren't getting
their timing down. The two were not very sharp in their five days
together thus far.

Asked when that becomes an issue, Parcells said, "I don't know
that it ever will be."

However, he also doesn't think they can merely show up for the
Sept. 10 opener at Jacksonville and immediately click.

"You wouldn't think so, would you?" he said.

Bledsoe agreed that it's not ideal, but said it beats the risk
of Owens coming back before he's ready and making his injury worse.

"When you've got receivers that are that talented, they can come
back in and still be very productive for you without a full
training camp," Bledsoe said. "But obviously the sooner we get to
work together the better."