<
>

T.O. might not miss any games despite injury

IRVING, Texas -- Thanks to the timing of the bye week,
Terrell Owens might not miss any games because of his broken hand.

Owens broke the bone leading to his right ring finger Sunday
night and had a plate surgically attached to it Monday. Although
Owens' hand was swollen and aching Wednesday, Dallas Cowboys coach
Bill Parcells said he's optimistic the receiver will be back at
work next week and catching passes a week from Sunday against
Tennessee.

"I certainly wouldn't rule it out now," Parcells said. "Maybe
five days from now I might, but I wouldn't rule it out now. ... I
know we're looking to try to get him moving around pretty good in
the next day or so. So we'll see where we are."

Owens did not speak with reporters Wednesday, but said Sunday
he'd be out two to four weeks. A return against the Titans would be
13 days after the surgery.

Emmitt Smith had the same procedure done to the same bone on the
same hand in 1999. He played 12 days later, missing one game
because the Cowboys' bye didn't happen to fall in between. Of
course, Smith had it easier because he carried the ball instead of
having to catch it, and he favored his left hand anyway.

Another potential factor could be how much the Cowboys (1-1)
feel they need Owens to beat the Titans (0-2). Having Owens would
certainly help, but not if it might compromise his chances of
playing the following weeks.

While T.O. certainly doesn't want to miss the game after that --
Oct. 8, in Philadelphia, against his previous employers -- the
Cowboys also want him for a five-game run starting Oct. 23 that
includes a home game against the New York Giants, road games at
Carolina, Washington and Arizona, then home against Indianapolis.

Tight end Jason Witten said he'd be surprised if Owens misses
the chance to play against the Eagles.

"I think that he's going to be back sooner rather than later,"
Witten said.

Parcells seems to think the only holdup with Owens will be pain
management. Although anti-pain medicine made Owens ill Wednesday,
the receiver showed his toughness by playing in the February 2005
Super Bowl seven weeks after ankle surgery.

"Once you put the plate in there's no risk of it being
displaced again," Parcells said. "So now it's a question of when
you can withstand that trauma or pain of catching the ball. Once he
can do that, he'll be good to go. So we'll just see how quickly
that comes along."

Parcells seems to be leaning toward undrafted rookie Sam Hurd
taking Owens' place, if T.O. can't go. Parcells would prefer to
plug one person into Owens' split end job rather than move Terry
Glenn or Patrick Crayton, then have to use someone else in their
place.

"I'm not going to screw up two positions," Parcells said.

Hurd played against Washington, but didn't have any passes
thrown his way. He won a roster spot with a strong preseason aided
by his post-practice workouts with Owens.

"I don't really think the game is too big for him," Parcells
said. "Just because he's replacing a more proven player that
doesn't make his job any different. That's what he's here for. We
kept him on the roster with the hope that he would be able to fill
in. He hasn't disappointed us."