Terrell Owens Returns to Practice

Thursday, September 28th 2006, 5:04 am
By: News On 6

IRVING, Texas (AP) _ Stretching, running routes and catching passes, Terrell Owens was back at practice with the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday _ an indication he could play Sunday in Tennessee.

Coach Bill Parcells said he might not decide until Saturday morning whether Owens makes the trip, and he'll probably wait until that night to determine whether to use him in the game.

Parcells wants to evaluate all the medical information he can get. That includes details about Owens' broken hand and possibly a mental evaluation based on the events of Tuesday night and Wednesday, when T.O. was rushed to a hospital amid talk of suicide, a drug overdose and depression.

``I have to, as the coach, rely on other people to keep me informed as to really what's going on,'' Parcells said. ``I can't form my own independent opinion other than those involving, `Is his hand functional and can he play on Sunday.' If my medical people tell me those things are in place, and then he looks like he's (OK), we'll make that consideration then.''

Parcells added that he can only decide whether a player is ready to play ``based on performance and physical conditioning.''

``I don't have the expertise to do anything in any other area,'' Parcells said. ``To intimate I do would be wrong.''

He pointed to the fact that Owens was released from the hospital after being checked out there.

``I have to rely on the doctors that apparently evaluated him in the hospital,'' he said. ``If they deemed it appropriate to release him, there must be a reason why they did that. I have to assume that was the proper course of action. That's all I can do. I don't have time to go around checking on every little thing.''

Owens wore receiving gloves Thursday with bandages under the right one to protect the broken bone leading to his ring finger. He broke it in a game a week ago Sunday and had a plate screwed in the following day. This was his first practice in pads since.

Parcells said Owens did ``everything he was asked to do.'' He's expected to practice again Friday.

``He seemed to be OK,'' Parcells said. ``There was no visible evidence he was struggling to catch the ball.''

Pain pills prescribed following the surgery were at the root of what Owens called a big misunderstanding that unfolded between the time he was taken by ambulance to an emergency room Tuesday night until he was released Wednesday. Owens gave his side of the story at an afternoon news conference.

``It was just an allergic reaction,'' Owens said. ``It's very unfortunate for the reports to go from an allergic reaction to a definite suicide attempt.''

Much of the confusion stemmed from a police report that reached media outlets Wednesday morning, before sections about a possible suicide attempt, drug overdose and depression were blacked out. None of that was visible once it was officially released, prompting Owens' publicist _ who was the person that called 911 _ to lash out at authorities.

``I am just upset that I just feel they take advantage of Terrell,'' she said. ``Had this been someone else, this may not have happened.''

Authorities did not immediately respond, citing privacy laws, but on Thursday the president of the Dallas Police Association _ which represents Dallas police officers _ demanded an apology from T.O. and his publicist.

``The officers reacted because they were called to this location to do this job. Now they're being put under a microscope by some fancy little football person,'' Senior Cpl. Glenn White said. ``Give me a break. Those officers are 10 times better than this man. ... We police officers don't go out to these calls and make stuff up.''

Publicist Kim Etheredge could not immediately be reached for a response. The voice mail on her cell phone was full, and she did not respond to an e-mail from The Associated Press.

The unreleased police report, which WFAA shared with the AP, stated there was an attempted ``suicide by prescription pain medication,'' that Owens was described as being depressed and that Owens said ``Yes'' when asked whether he was trying to harm himself.

According to Owens, the problems began when he mistakenly mixed his prescription pills with supplements he ordinarily takes. The combination left him woozy, and Etheredge, who was with him at his Dallas condo, became worried when he couldn't respond to her questions. Having also discovered an empty bottle of pills, she called for help.

He said he doesn't know what he told emergency responders because, ``I was kind of out of it.''

Owens went from the hospital to catching passes within a few hours Wednesday. He then showed up to a packed news conference wearing workout gear and his usual wide smile, seeming more amused than peeved. He apologized for being a distraction, thanked his friends for worrying about him and said he is ``not depressed by any means.''

``I am very happy to be here,'' said Owens, who received a $25 million, three-year deal from the Cowboys in March, four days after the Eagles released him. ``My thing is I have come here to help this team get on a roll, get on the track of getting into the playoffs and winning some ballgames.''

He's especially eager to play a week from Sunday, when Dallas plays at Philadelphia, offering him his first chance to beat the team that gave up on him midway through last season.

Owens has played two games for the Cowboys, catching nine passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. He broke the bone leading to his right ring finger against Washington. The next day, doctors screwed in a plate so the bone could heal without fear of further damage, leaving a 2-inch scar on top of his hand.