OXNARD, Calif. -- Terrell Owens was finally back on the field Wednesday, even though he says he's still not 100 percent.
Instead of bike helmets or shorts, Owens was in pads, working
with his Cowboys teammates after missing 14 straight practices
because of a hamstring problem.
"Not where I want to be, but definitely some improvement,"
Owens said after the nearly 2½-hour practice. "I just felt like
with the things I was doing rehab-wise, I could do some limited
stuff. We're not going to go overboard. They're going to work me in
until I get my endurance."
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggested last weekend that Owens
needed to learn how to practice at less than 100 percent. The
receiver insisted earlier this week that he knew only one way to
practice -- at full game speed.
Then earlier Wednesday, Bill Parcells reiterated that Owens
needed to be back on the field.
And a couple hours later, Owens was.
"I just prayed about it, right before I got out here. That's
the God's honest truth," Owens said. "I feel like a lot of people
have been speculating with me sitting on the bike every day. ...
I'm not going to let anybody, as far as media-wise, coaching-wise,
speculate as far as my health is concerned. I feel like I've got
nothing to prove to anybody."
Still, Owens acknowledged that he didn't want to be a problem.
"I don't want to have any friction with anybody," he said.
"But I feel like at some time, when someone starts to question my
heart or my injury, it does get under your skin a little bit."
As has been his custom throughout camp, Owens was the last
player on the field.
Owens did ride the stationary bicycle on the sideline, where
he's spent the last two weeks, but this time just for a quick
warmup before the only practice of the day -- his first since Aug.
Parcells, who spoke only before practice, said perceptions that
he was angry at the receiver were wrong.
"Can you get a little frustrated from time to time? Yeah,"
Parcells said. "But that's all. We'll see. Things will work out.
... I don't want to jeopardize the early part of the season by
making a mistake here. I really don't."
After his warmup on the bicycle and a few stretches, Owens went
straight to the huddle to join the first-team offense for some
half-speed plays. When he got the line, he slapped hands with
defensive back Terence Newman.
Owens took part in individual and team drills, though he did sit
out a few plays.
The timing was obviously off between him and quarterback
Drew Bledsoe, with a couple passes thrown out of Owens' reach. On a
route over the middle, Newman knocked the bobbling ball out of his
hands, and it was intercepted by another defender.
"We're still sort of like in a rehab phase," Owens said.
"Obviously, I think Drew and I, we need to get in synch, get on a
Bledsoe didn't stop to talk to reporters after practice.
Owens spoke after practice with NFL career rushing leader Emmitt Smith, the former Cowboy who visited camp between practices for his
upcoming appearance on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." Owens even
did a couple steps with Smith's dance partner.
The stage could now be set for Owens to play his first game for
the Cowboys in their next exhibition game, a nationally televised
game against the New Orleans Saints on Monday night. But Owens said
he's still day-to-day and isn't sure if he'll be play.
During his daily briefing with reporters earlier Wednesday,
Parcells wouldn't say if Owens would play even if he returned to
"That doesn't mean he would play," Parcells said. "He has
missed a lot of time. It wouldn't be so much whether he practiced
or not, as to how he looked, how much he practiced and did he get
enough practice to make a good judgment about playing him."
While the Cowboys went through two practices Tuesday, Owens did
rehabilitation work. He rode the stationary bike before doing
stretching and running exercises. He ran routes, making hard cuts
without any apparent discomfort, and did some 100-yard sprints at
full speed. He had a similar workout Monday.
Last week Owens wore the Discovery Channel pro cycling team's
silver and blue uniform to poke fun at all the time he's spending
on the stationary bicycle.
Owens first felt a twinge in his hamstring Aug. 2, but an MRI
taken three days later was clear. Owens flew in several doctors and
trainers, plus a hyperbaric chamber, because he still didn't feel