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Saturday, September 16, 2006
T.O. eager to make Texas Stadium debut, face Redskins

Associated Press

IRVING, Texas -- Terrell Owens has had six months to come up with a memorable way to celebrate his first touchdown at Texas Stadium as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

Of course, it's got to involve the midfield star logo he stomped on six years ago.

Pulling a marker out of his sock and signing the logo would be quite a spectacle. As would borrowing pompoms from one of the famous Cowboys cheerleaders and shimmying on the 50-yard line. Or he could just plow down and do some midfield sit-ups.

But Owens prefers to be an innovator, not a copycat, even if those would merely be digging into his own repertoire.

So, T.O., what's it going to be?

"I don't really know what I am going to do," he said. "I'm just going to go out there and try to wing it, try to have fun with it."

Owens will get his chance Sunday night against the Washington Redskins, providing he reaches the end zone.

The game itself should be a good one. The Cowboys and Redskins are division rivals that came into this season with playoff hopes, but made too many mistakes and lost their openers. The loser will be 0-2, adding urgency to this battle of wits between coaching greats Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs, and providing taunt-worthy material for team owners Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder.

Yet those aren't the reasons NBC got this game for its second prime-time showcase.

It's all about the guy wearing No. 81 on his shirt and a star on his helmet -- and what he might do after a touchdown.

Owens is well aware a national television audience will be watching. And he knows they'll be waiting for something outlandish, ideally one that invokes his look-at-me antics on the logo in 2000, the move that launched him from quality receiver to A-list personality.

"I'm going to have to figure it out. I just haven't figured it out yet," he insisted this week. "I've about run out of touchdown dances and celebrations, as far as something creative."

The broadcast is sure to include a rundown of T.O.'s TD stunts, including his autograph session for beaten cornerback Shawn Springs, then of Seattle but now playing for Washington.

Springs is recovering from surgery and not expected to play. But he knows what to expect should Owens score.

"He's going to act the fool, just like he will always do," Springs said. "That's Sunday night and it's prime time, so he's going to show up because that's what keeps you on SportsCenter. He's going to do something big, so your goal is to go out there and try to shut out him and (Terry) Glenn.

"But the thing I keep telling everybody -- I don't want y'all to be surprised -- T.O. is a great player, but the difference is that now you can't double-team Terry Glenn, and he's been lighting us up the last two years."

Without Springs, the Redskins gave up 223 yards passing in a 19-16 loss to Minnesota last Sunday. Cornerback Carlos Rogers gave up a 20-yard touchdown and Mike Rumph gave up a 46-yard completion.

"You've got to give them different looks, mix up the coverage," said Rogers, a first-round pick last year who is likely to draw Owens most of the time. "T.O., he likes to be physical. I was telling some of the guys, we've got to get back in the weight room this week, because with him, we've got to be physical the whole game."

In Dallas' opener, Glenn caught four passes for 81 yards and Owens had a team-best six catches for 80 yards, including a twirling grab for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. He didn't celebrate because the Cowboys were on their way to a 24-17 loss to Jacksonville.

While Owens denies choreographing anything for this game, he acknowledges he wants to do something special.

"You better believe it," he said. "I'm going to try to bring some excitement to Texas Stadium."

Actually, the sizzle factor might start with Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who is on the hot seat -- at least with fans, if not coach Bill Parcells -- after throwing three interceptions last Sunday.

With folks eager to see what backup Tony Romo can do, Bledsoe isn't being given much slack. His cause is hurt by the fact he threw six interceptions over the final three games last year; the Redskins picked him off three times in a 35-7 drubbing. And with a bye looming the following week, Bledsoe needs to do all he can to keep his grip on the job.

"I've always taken pride in being able to bounce back and keep going forward regardless of what's happened," Bledsoe said. "That's what I'm doing now."

Washington swept Dallas last season for the first time since 1995. The Redskins will be trying to beat the Cowboys three straight for the first time since a run of four in a row from 1986-88, back in the final days of Tom Landry coaching the Cowboys.

One more thing to remember about Owens is the league's new rules against touchdown celebrations. Anything officials deem excessive will draw a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that certainly wouldn't go over well with Parcells.

"Right now, we're just really trying to concentrate on trying to get a win," Owens said. "I think the things I do on the field will kind of take care of itself."

Stay tuned.