Playmaker Owens tones down antics, still wants the ball



The former 49ers wideout spent time with Donovan McNabb in the offseason.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) -- Terrell Owens argued with coaches, criticized teammates and threw tantrums whenever he was unhappy in San Francisco.
The four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver knows those antics won't be tolerated in Philadelphia. It doesn't mean he wants the ball any less.
"They brought me here to make plays," Owens said Sunday. "They wouldn't have brought me here otherwise. They know the talent I have."
The flamboyant, outspoken Owens came to the Eagles in a three-team trade with the 49ers and Baltimore Ravens in March.
He gives quarterback Donovan McNabb the No. 1 target he's sorely lacked, and could be the final piece the offense needs to get to the Super Bowl after three straight losses in the NFC championship game.
Owens averaged 93 receptions, 1,316 yards and 13 touchdowns over the last four seasons while feuding with teammates, coaches, the 49ers' front office and the media. Philadelphia's starting receivers last year -- James Thrash and Todd Pinkston -- combined for 85 catches, 1,133 yards and three TDs.
But Eagles coach Andy Reid prefers a balanced attack on offense, spreading the ball around to multiple receivers and running the ball often.
"I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to get a lot of balls like I got in San Francisco, but it's the ones that I get that I make due with," Owens said. "A lot of people criticize me about griping about not getting a lot of passes and having 100-catch seasons. I've only had one 100-catch season. I can do with 80 catches what a guy can do with 100 catches."
Good relationship
Owens' relationship with McNabb already is better than the one he had with former 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia.
Owens spent time in the offseason at McNabb's home in Arizona, working on pass routes and getting to know the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback.
"He likes to have a good time," Owens said. "I've noticed how he has brought a little character out of me. I can be known as a little serious or a little standoffish but I like to have fun. With a guy like Donovan, he definitely rubs off on me a little bit."
McNabb has made it known he won't let Owens get out of line.
"It is good to have an ego and be confident in yourself, but it is bad to have an ego when you're trying to express it to all the guys around you," McNabb said. "I don't think we have that problem."
Change of scenery
After eight sometimes controversial seasons with San Francisco, Owens was supposed to become a free agent March 3. But his agent, David Joseph, failed to file papers voiding the final years of his contract by a Feb. 21 deadline.
The 49ers then dealt Owens to the Ravens on March 4, after he had agreed to a contract with the Eagles.
Owens protested the trade, refused to show up for a physical and insisted he wanted to play in Philadelphia. The union then filed a grievance on Owens' behalf to make him a free agent.
The three teams agreed to a trade before an arbitrator could rule on the case.
Several Ravens, including star linebacker Ray Lewis, were upset by Owens' decision. Lewis even warned Owens not to go over the middle when the teams play a preseason game in Philadelphia on Aug. 20.
Owens isn't worried.
"I made my living across the middle, so it doesn't bother me," he said. "He's not the hardest hitter to play the game of football, although he's definitely a great talent."
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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