TDs are nice; now T.O. would like to get involved earlier

Wednesday, October 18th 2006, 10:06 pm
By: News On 6

IRVING, Texas (AP) _ Now that T.O. has loaded up on TDs, he has a new gripe: not enough catches before halftime.

Terrell Owens said Wednesday his three touchdown catches this past Sunday let him know he's an important part of the Dallas Cowboys' offense, but he also noted that all three came in the second half.

He had only one catch for 19 yards over the first two quarters against Houston. And he was shut out over the first two quarters of the previous game, against Philadelphia.

A trend is developing and Owens doesn't like it.

``For me, the game is getting boring, you know?'' he said, giggling. ``In the first half of the last two ballgames, I'm not in the ballgame. That's not to say I'm not working hard. I'm not sure what the case may be.''

Statistics and reality differ a bit. For instance, Owens dismisses the passes thrown his way that didn't end up in the box score: an interception and an incompletion against the Eagles; a well-thrown ball he missed after slipping and falling; and a catch wiped out by a penalty against the Texans.

Still, he's right about more balls going his way in the second halves of the last two games.

``It's not really anybody's fault,'' he said. ``I just feel like it's something that needs to be (addressed). ... I feel like I need to be in the offense, involved a little bit earlier in the ballgame.''

Actually, Owens has been perfectly balanced through five games. He's caught 11 passes in the first half, 11 in the second half. He's also had more yards before halftime (156) than after (121), while all his touchdowns have come in the final two quarters.

While the three-TD game was a nice boost, Owens has yet to crack 100 yards or really be the focus of a game plan.

Part of it could be the slow-growing relationship between Owens and quarterback Drew Bledsoe. They missed a lot of practice time because of a hamstring injury that knocked Owens out of most of the preseason, then a broken hand took him off the field for another week.

Owens doesn't think that should matter, nor should the fact he's still learning Dallas' offense after playing his entire career in two West Coast systems.

``I feel like any time I step on the field I can make plays,'' Owens said. ``As I've said all along, it's all about the opportunities that I am given.''

More opportunities will come once Cowboys coach Bill Parcells gets a better grasp on Owens.

``We still have a lot to learn about some of the things he can do and how best to use him,'' Parcells said. ``We are trying to spend a lot of time figuring that out.''

Owens' performance against the Texans should help. His first two TD catches came on plays he and Bledsoe discussed earlier in the week. Owens also made a nice adjustment on the second one, slipping between two defenders to make the catch.

``Going into this game, I felt like I had to make some plays to let them know that's what I do _ I make plays,'' Owens said. ``I think it's been an adjustment. The coaches, obviously, they're working hard, trying to find ways to implement me into the game plan. I've just got to go accordingly.''

One seemingly easy way to get him the ball would be quick slant passes, the kind that have been so successful most of his career.

Bledsoe said they could be coming.

``As he becomes more comfortable in this offense and has more practice time, you'll see some more of those type of quick throws, where we get the ball in his hands and just let him run,'' Bledsoe said. ``He's got such explosive down-the-field speed that it's a different challenge. But at the same time, he's a guy that should and will be a huge weapon for us going forward.''

Also Wednesday, Owens also laughed off barbs thrown at him by Charles Barkley during the Monday Night Football broadcast.

Among Barkley's comments: ``If I was a teammate, I would have hit him in the head with something,'' and that ``T.O.'s got such an overbearing personality, he'd be tough to play with.''

Owens said he heard Barkley say it and sent him a text message soon after. Barkley wrote back and they later spoke by phone. Owens also mentioned that earlier this summer he and Barkley argued about something Barkley said on the air about Kobe Bryant.

``Charles and I, we're good friends,'' Owens said. ``I didn't take it personal. It's just Charles being Charles.''