Bills wise to sit T.O.

Buffalo is smart to sit its star wide receiver. Terrell Owens' bum toe will keep him out of the Pittsburgh game this weekend. Even with the offense struggling, it makes little sense to force-feed T.O. into action. The Bills need him for the long haul...

Think Green Bay's 3-4 defense was gnarly? Wait until Saturday. Buffalo travels to Pittsburgh where one of the best 3-4 ever assembled is foaming at the mouth.

So, yeah, it might be time the first-team offense actually scores a touchdown. In the last three games, Trent Edwards' first unit hasn't so much sniffed the end zone, dinking and dunking themselves into punts and turnovers and headaches. With that Monday Night Showdown at New England looming, the offense must find chemistry. Fast.

And obviously, the quickest way for the offense to rev up is for Terrell Owens to be on the field. T.O.'s catalytic effect on the offense has shined in training camp. He opens new doors to new players just as he has his whole career. Considering the offense has patty-caked on horizontal checkdowns all preseason, Edwards needs Owens now more than ever.

Or so it'd seem.

Sure, Owens offers something different than the dull status quo that has dominated Buffalo for a decade and the Bills need him on the field ASAP. But keep things in perspective. It's August. Forcing Owens onto the field — even if he is half-babying this injury — makes no sense. If T.O. were to further rough up his toe and miss a substantial period of time, it'd spell Lambeau-esque disaster all season.

We've seen what this offense is like without the bionic wideout. Lame and loving three-and-outs. The Packers, in their first season running a 3-4, feasted the Bills' first team with backup linebackers (Desmond Bishop, Brady Poppinga). Dick Jauron is wise to shelf his best weapon.

"He won't play this weekend," Jauron said. "But he felt the best he's felt today. He was working out here earlier with our trainers."

That's the good news. By all accounts, this isn't something bigger. There isn't any red-flag, read-between-lines paranoia here. Owens isn't 100 percent. The Bills are simply being cautious. Anyone that claims the offense needs Owens at this very instant to ensure offensive rhythm by week one must remember last season.

If starting the season fast was so important, Buffalo would have won the Super Bowl last year. Instead, a 4-0 stampede to start the season caved to 7-9. Think long haul. Think 16 games.

The Bills' conservative decision to handle Owens like an antique may be unpopular. But no one should panic. He'll slip into the team's no-huddle offense without the slightest chip of rust. Unlike a rookie holdout like Michael Crabtree, T.O. doesn't need camp anymore, doesn't need to entertain his Verizon-sponsored "T.O. Tweeters" section at St. John Fisher. He knows the playbook, knows Edwards' tendencies and knows the speed of the game.

A few catches against the Steelers would do nothing but make everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside heading into Foxborough. Who cares? These games matter about as much as Owens' painful-to-watch T.V. show. Airless.

For all we know, Owens may not be the amoxicillin Buffalo's offense desperately needs. Right now, the first team is playing scared and confused as a whole. In Green Bay, Edwards played as suffocated as he did against Cleveland on Monday Night Football last year. One guy can't swoop in with a Midas touch and fix everything.

But T.O. will almost certainly everybody a pinch better, making everything a tad easier across the board. He adds a dimension the offense hasn't possessed this generation. Even in the twilight of his career, Owens poses more mismatches than 95 percent of the wide receivers in the game today. Losing him for an extended period of time would be a season-killer.

Give Jauron credit for his restraint. He's never been one for knee-jerk decisions, probably to a fault, but this is one of his best cautious moves to date. It'll be painful to see James Harrison and the new Steel Curtain ingest the first-team offense. But through it all, keep December — not September — in the back of your mind.

Tyler Dunne is the Publisher of Contact him at

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