Owens has tested the patience of Cowboys coach Bill Parcells by missing the first three preseason games with a sore hamstring. He's practiced five times in the last three weeks. With the preseason finale being Thursday, his first action might not come until the season opener against the Jaguars -- if then. While questions abound about how serious Owens' hamstring injury really is, what is unacceptable to the Cowboys is that he missed a team meeting and rehab session on Friday. He was fined $9,500.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones believes the Owens saga will be over once he gets healthy and gets back on the field. But time will tell if this is a hiccup or the beginning of an explosion named Mount Parcells.
"There's no question our best thing to do is get him well," Jones said. "I want him out there and would've wanted him to make every practice. I understand that and everyone else does, too. He wants to be out there, too.
"I know this -- when he's healthy, he's going to help us win these ball games."
Further unrest came out of Dallas when K Mike Vanderjagt got a tongue-lashing from coach Bill Parcells on Saturday. Vanderjagt has missed the last two games with a groin injury. And when he has kicked in practice, he has been inconsistent. The Cowboys signed Vanderjagt in the off-season to be the savior of their kicking game. With the season opener a little more than two weeks away, they don't know what he can do.
A bright spot for the Cowboys in addition to their 3-0 preseason record is DE Jason Hatcher. While he still needs work against the run, the rookie fourth-round pick is ready to contribute as a pass rusher. He had two sacks and forced a fumble against the 49ers.
Eagles: It's becoming pretty clear that the Eagles won't be able to count on wide receiver Todd Pinkston this season, at least not early on. Pinkston, who missed all of last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon and has spent most of training camp and the preseason on the shelf with Achilles tendinitis in both feet, saw his first preseason action last Friday in the Eagles' 16-7 win over Pittsburgh. He caught just one pass for five yards on a quick screen and was very tentative.
When the Eagles opened training camp, the hope was that Pinkston, who averaged an NFL-best 18.8 yards per catch two seasons ago, would be able to reclaim his role as the team's No. 2 wideout opposite second-year man Reggie Brown. But his performance against the Steelers made that very unlikely.
Pinkston's injury problems have been compounded by the disappointing play of Jabar Gaffney. The Eagles signed Gaffney, who caught 55 passes for the Houston Texans last season, to a one-year deal. But he has struggled to pick up the Eagles' offense and has dropped down the depth chart behind rookies Hank Baskett and Jason Avant. But he had four receptions last week against Baltimore and had an 18-yard catch in the Steelers' game.
"We're still in the evaluation stage with our receivers. We'll see how things go here," head coach Andy Reid said.
As a result of the uncertainty at wide receiver, the Eagles appear to have some level of interest in Deion Branch now that the New England Patriots have given the holdout wide receiver permission to talk to other teams about a trade. But it's hard to believe that they would be willing to pay the 27-year-old Branch any more than he already has turned down from the Patriots. Branch rejected five-year, $33 million and three-year, $18.7 million offers from them.
RB Brian Westbrook hasn't been on the field since stretching ligaments in his foot in the first preseason game. The Eagles say they are just being cautious with Westbrook and that he'll be ready for the team's Sept. 10 season opener.
RB Correll Buckhalter, who has missed three of the last four years with knee injuries, appears to have secured a roster spot with his impressive play in Friday's preseason game against Pittsburgh. Buckhalter rushed for 31 yards on seven carries.
Giants: FS Will Demps, who was signed as an unrestricted free agent, was proud of the fact that the defense has not allowed a TD in 11 straight quarters (the blocked punt returned for a TD by the Jets did not count against the defense). "It is kind of just getting the feel for this defense and the guys and we are really coming together. We're excited now because we feel comfortable with each other."
WR Plaxico Burress definitely had a down game. He dropped a pass right in his hands (meaning he could not publicly call out Eli Manning for poor accuracy), then drew two costly penalties. "Hey, if you are going to get a personal foul, this is the best time to do it -- during the preseason," he said. "You know, get them out of the way. The guy (Jets safety Kerry Rhodes) hit me so I hit him back. I got caught. They always catch the second guy."
WR Tim Carter has been the surprise of camp, merely because he has managed to stay healthy. "He is just a delight when you can watch him racing downfield and beating guys," says QB Eli Manning. "He has great size and speed. He can be a superstar if he just manages to stay on the field." The 6-0, 190-pound Carter, now starting his fifth season with the Giants (he was a second-round pick in 2002), led the team with four receptions vs. the Jets.
Redskins: RB Clinton Portis remains iffy for the Sept. 11 opener against Minnesota because of the partially dislocated left shoulder he suffered on Aug. 13 at Cincinnati. Either holdover Ladell Betts or newcomer T.J. Duckett would start in place of Portis. Betts started the past two preseason games, rushing for just 34 yards on 10 carries. Duckett managed just eight yards on four carries in his Redskins' debut against the Patriots.
CB Shawn Springs is likely out of the opener after undergoing abdominal surgery on Aug. 15. Kenny Wright would continue to start in place of Springs.
In-story photo of Brian Westbrook: AP Photo/Chuck Burton