Ravens Notebook: Cowboys’ T.O. tough to corral

Street Talk Ravens Notebook: Cowboys’ T.O. tough to corral

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OWINGS MILLS — Despite all the drama and revolving soap operas that surround controversial Dallas Cowboys star wide receiver Terrell Owens, there’s no disputing this fact: He’s one of the most physically dominant receivers in the NFL.

Especially when he’s not distracted by all his pouting and whining about conspiracy theories involving quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten supposedly freezing him out of the passing game.

Owens has caught 58 passes for 886 yards and nine touchdowns this season heading into Saturday night’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.

"He’s a complete receiver, one of the best in football so you’ve got to respect him," said Ravens cornerback Fabian Washington, a question mark for this game due to a hamstring injury. "I’m going to press him a little bit, play off him a little bit. I’m going to mix it up.

"He can run by you. He’s fast, but I’m faster than T.O. As far as talking to him, I don’t talk. I’m silent. I’ll ignore him."

Added linebacker Bart Scott: "He’s a colorful guy. He’s in great shape. He’s a physical receiver and he wants you to be physical with him. It’s an all-day thing."

Owens was briefly with the Ravens after a trade from the San Francisco 49ers that was ultimately nullified by an NFL special master’s ruling, a decision that sent him to the Philadelphia Eagles after refusing to play for Baltimore. Eventually, Owens was kicked out of Philadelphia for feuding with quarterback Donovan McNabb and violating team rules.

Despite his lengthy history of incidents, Owens has caught 940 career passes for 13,956 yards and 138 touchdowns.

"T.O. has got a unique skill set," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, a former Eagles assistant. "Having been with him for two years on the staff and just being around him, I’ve watched him compete every day. There ‘s not a tougher competitor.

"There’s not a guy that practices harder, works harder in the weight room, works at his craft more than Terrell Owens. He creates a challenge for any defense. It’s not just one guy who’s going to be able to line up and cover a receiver like that. It’s going to be our whole defense responsible for stopping all their players, and especially a player of that quality."

Harbaugh declined to tell any stories out of school about Owens’ famously combustible personality.

"Not that I could share right now, no," Harbaugh said. "It would all be positive, I guarantee it."

Ravens cornerback Evan Oglesby was with the Cowboys last season before being cut in training camp this summer, practicing against Owens every day and gained a different perspective on the man known as T.O.

"The media portrays T.O. to be a bad guy, but I don’t know a better teammate," Oglesby said. "He voices his opinion a lot, but he’s loyal and he wants to win. He expects a lot out of others."

TRAINING ROOM: Washington returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday in his first workout since hurting his hamstring against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He insisted he’s going to play despite the problems with his leg.

"It’s not going to be all the way healed by game time and it won’t be 100 percent, but you got to suck it up and play," Washington said. "I’m going to test it in warm-ups. I don’t think it’s going to stop me from playing at all."

The Ravens are counting on having Washington out there.

"Oh gosh, I hope he does," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "You don’t have to worry about someone running past him. He’s done a great job.  If he could catch, he’d really be something.

"He’s probably got as good of cover skills as there is in the league. We knew we were getting a heck of a player, but he’s tightened up his game even more. Hopefully, he’ll be ready to go."

Free safety Ed Reed (hamstring) rested his leg for the second consecutive day, but is expected to play Saturday.

Offensive tackle Jared Gaither (flu) was upgraded to full participation in practice after sitting out Wednesday.

Offensive tackle Willie Anderson (ankle), wide receiver Derrick Mason (dislocated left shoulder), running back Ray Rice (calf contusion), kicker Matt Stover (sprained right ankle) and offensive tackle Adam Terry (knee) were limited.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (thigh) and punter Sam Koch (back) participated fully.

PAGING JESSICA: The attractive presence of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s celebrity girlfriend, actress and singer Jessica Simpson, has been requested.

Reveling in Cowboys Nation’s concerns that Simpson has a Yoko Ono like effect on Romo when she attends games, Suggs called Simpson a "lovely lady" and hopes she’ll be at Texas Stadium for the game.

"I like Jessica, I think she’s awesome," Suggs said. "I have heard when she’s in the building things don’t tend to go his way or his team’s way. I would like to get a look at her in person. I would be honored if she sang the national anthem."

HISTORY: Ryan is well-versed in the Cowboys’ history having attended school in Oklahoma and being around his father, Buddy Ryan, when he was coaching the Philadelphia Eagles and the Arizona Cardinals, including the infamous Bounty Bowl game.

"I lived it, I saw it all," Ryan said. "The Porkchop Bowl and the so-called Bounty Bowl, the Snowball Bowl, I know all about Dallas.
"When we were in Arizona, we couldn’t beat them. When Dad was in Philly, I think he had some pretty good success. He’ll be there in spirit, but he’s not going to be there."

FINED: The NFL uniform police fined Scott $10,000 for an infraction involving how he wore his socks against Pittsburgh. He plans to appeal.

"They don’t like me," Scott said.

Cornerback Frank Walker was fined $5,000 for wearing an illegally tinted visor.

CHOICE ROOKIE: Cowboys rookie fourth-round pick Tashard Choice has taken advantage of the opportunity created by injuries to Felix Jones and Marion Barber, gaining 309 yards of total offense over the past two games.

He rushed for 88 yards against the Steelers’ top-ranked defense. He gained 91 yards on nine carries, including a 38-yard touchdown run, in a win over the New York Giants.

“He’s shown a lot of potential,” Suggs said. “He’s shown that he can pop one for a big gain, which he did last week. He looks like a good back, and they’re using him really well in their scheme. I think he’s someone we have to be concerned about.”

QUICK HITS: Special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said that he expects safety Jim Leonhard and return specialist Yamon Figurs to continue splitting up return duties for the rest of the season. … Barber (toe) and safety Ken Hamlin (finger) didn’t practice again. Romo (back), cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones (neck) and wide receiver Roy Williams (foot) were upgraded to full participation in practice. The Ravens are adjusting their preparation for Jones’ expected presence on punt returns. "He’s a different style of returner, he’s a very athletic returner," Rosburg said. "He changes direction quickly and he has a lot of movement. He’s very daring, so it does change the style of your coverage. Adam, you have to make sure you have a bunch of guys around him to try and tackle him." …  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell concurred with referee Walt Coleman’s controversial instant-replay decision that determined the Ravens’ 13-9 loss to the Steelers. "Unless, of course, I guess you’re a Ravens fan, and I understand that," Goodell said at the NFL owners meetings in Irving, Texas. "But we looked at it, and I think what we believe is it was a very good use of instant replay, where they looked at the angles and they put one and one together to come up with what I think was the right conclusion." … No scenario exists where the Ravens can clinch a playoff berth this weekend. … The Cowboys have a massive offensive line featuring Flozell Adams and Leonard Davis. "They’re huge, that’s the first thing you notice," Ryan said. "They can move as well as just being massive guys. Usually, you get guys who can’t move a lick. Well, these guys do move. It’s a solid group. We’ll see them in Hawaii, most of them.  … Middle linebacker Ray Lewis was shocked that defensive tackle Haloti Ngata didn’t make the AFC Pro Bowl squad. "You turn on the film and his dominance speaks for itself," Lewis said. "When a person like myself goes to the Pro Bowl, the first thing you have to ask yourself is: How didn’t the person in front of me go to the Pro Bowl? There’s no me without them." … Ravens practice squad defensive tackle Saloman Solano, who’s with the team through an international development program,  was named to the Mexican junior national team coaching staff. "It’s going to be fun," Solano said. "I’m excited about sharing what I’ve been learning in the NFL."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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