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Bad news abounds in Eagles' practices



Published: Sat, August 13, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The main problem has been the controversy surrounding Terrell Owens.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) -- Whatever Terrell Owens hears in those headphones that have been affixed to his head -- more than his helmet -- for the last two weeks, it probably isn't good advice.

There's T.O. coming to camp! There's T.O. shooting hoops after practice! There's T.O. doing stomach crunches in his driveway!

While the banished Owens has been making headlines with his unhappiness over his contract, Donovan McNabb and coach Andy Reid, training camp hasn't been so rosy for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Corey Simon refused to sign his franchise tender and failed to report. Brian Westbrook held out a week, also because of a contract dispute. Todd Pinkston was lost for the season with a torn Achilles' tendon. Correll Buckhalter's tricky knee is putting his season in doubt.

And when Jerome McDougle -- who was shot in the stomach by armed robbers -- will return is uncertain.

Owens sideshow

But enough about that. What about T.O.?

No matter what else is going on in camp, everything seems to comes back to the shenanigans between Owens and the Eagles.

"It's not just a job, it's an adventure," said defensive end Hollis Thomas. "It goes with the territory. You're going to have some controversy here and there. You've got to learn how to deal with it."

The Eagles, with or without Owens, seem built to last. They're playoff tested with four straight NFC title game appearances, They've been smart with the salary cap, and they're so confident (some would say smug) in their system that players are plugged in and out with little dropoff.

"The question of the fire, the motivation, the discipline, it's all there," said Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie.

Owens hired agent Drew Rosenhaus to help earn a new contract, does not want to be friends with McNabb and the outlandish wide receiver cares little if he ever talks to his teammates again.

"Understand that he's a great player. He can be a great person, let's not forget that," McNabb said. "If you're mad at everybody, hey, you have your space. When we're on this football field, we're working together."

Saying the right things

So far, the Eagles have said all the right things about winning without their best receiver. Of course, no one else is asking them about any other topic.

After taking the brunt of Owens' criticism on two televised rants, McNabb laughed off the wide receiver. After booting Owens from camp, Reid was as stone-faced as usual while insisting the Eagles will be fine.

"They don't allow distractions to bother them," Reid said. "These guys are out here cranking and that's what they're focusing on. They're not focusing on distractions."

Owens also said he had an antagonistic exchange with offensive coordinator Brad Childress, telling ESPN the offending words were repeated greetings of "Hey, Terrell."

"It's important that you understand, if a daily 'hi' is antagonistic or spiteful then I must be on the wrong planet," Childress said. "I've always treated people with dignity and respect."

Teammates amused

Publicly, most teammates were simply amused by the T.O. Show.

"He's making it hard for Drew," said a smiling Jevon Kearse, also a Rosenhaus client.

Owens also is making it hard for the Eagles to depend on him. He still has to talk with Reid before returning to practice Wednesday.

Owens has made his case clear: He wants a new deal or he won't be happy. The Eagles won't budge off their hardline stance: T.O. can play for the Eagles or he won't play at all.

"The train's going to keep moving, but any time you take away a talent like that, it's going to affect you some," linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said.

How much, no one knows.




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