T.O. says MRI negative, but he's still hurting

IRVING, Texas -- Terrell Owens won't be in any hurry to get
off the bicycle this time.

Like he did for most practices during training camp in Oxnard,
Calif., Owens rode a stationary bicycle Wednesday when the Dallas Cowboys held their first workout at home. The receiver said he
reaggravated his left hamstring injury by returning to practice too
soon last week.

"I just tried to compromise with some people, just try to be around
the team and get back out there. It just flared up again."
-- Terrell Owens

"At this point, yeah, I will be close to 100 percent before I
get back on the field," Owens said. "I'm not going to jeopardize
my health just because of speculation or anything like that."

Owens characterized his injury as a "severe pull" and said he
almost certainly will miss his third straight preseason game. The
Cowboys play at home Saturday night against San Francisco, Owens'
original team.

"It's frustrating, but it's not where I need it to be to play
and perform like I need to," Owens said. "So at this point, I'm
going to be smart about it."

Asked if he could play if the regular season were starting,
Owens said, "I doubt it, not the way I need to play."

After missing 14 consecutive training camp practices and the
preseason opener in Seattle because of the hamstring problem that
has bothered him all month, Owens returned for five practices last
week. He then missed the final full workout in California and
didn't play Monday night against New Orleans in Shreveport, La.,
after the hamstring tightened up on him.

Owens had returned to practice after Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
suggested that the receiver needed to learn how to practice at less
than 100 percent. His first practice back came only hours after
coach Bill Parcells reiterated that Owens needed to be on the

"Just because the MRI doesn't show anything, that doesn't mean that I'm not hurting."
-- Terrell Owens

"I felt like I was never pressured to get back on the field. I
just tried to compromise with some people, just try to be around
the team and get back out there," Owens said. "It just flared up

Owens first felt a twinge in his hamstring Aug. 2, but an MRI
taken three days later was clear. Owens said another MRI taken this
week was also negative, with only a little fluid in the hamstring.

"Just because the MRI doesn't show anything, that doesn't mean
that I'm not hurting," Owens said. "I got to a point where I was
feeling a little bit healthier [last week], obviously to go out
there and practice. I felt like I got more reps than my body was
ready for, than my injury was ready for."

Owens went through individual and team drills last week, running
routes at full speed and making hard cuts without any apparent

While saying he would take a "majority" of the blame for doing
too much, Owens said he thought he was only going to be doing
"limited stuff" on the field.

"That went out the window after the first day," Owens said.

Dallas has its final preseason game five nights after playing
the 49ers.

It's possible that Owens might not play in a game for Dallas
until the Sept. 10 season opener at Jacksonville. He hasn't played
in a game with quarterback Drew Bledsoe, and the Dallas offense is
different from the West Coast scheme Owens played in for the 49ers
and Philadelphia.

"He is pretty much up on what to do," Parcells said. "He has
been very attentive in meetings and trying to learn. There are some
adjustments for him to make. Where he is and actually doing it is
hard to tell. ... I'm going to have to see something."

Owens said he's not concerned about the possibility of not
playing in the preseason. He wants to make sure he is healthy for
the regular season.

"I don't really have any doubts about if I'm going to perform
or not," he said. "Obviously, I need to get on the field ... to
try to get in a rhythm in the offense. I think that will come with
time, and I don't think I'm too far off."

Except he's not getting any closer riding a stationary bike.