Can he be "the man?"

Wide receiver Roy Williams doesn't understand why he's become a flashpoint for criticism since Terrell Owens was released.

He doesn't understand the questions and scrutiny, most of which focuses on whether he can fill the shoes of Owens and be the Cowboys' No. 1 receiver.

But what is coming to understand is that he is not in Detroit anymore. As a member of so-called America's Team, everything is scrutinized, placed under a microscope and studied some more.

And with Owens gone and Williams ascending to the role of lead receiver, Williams has climbed directly under the lens of the microscope in Dallas. The focus, though, isn't coming solely from fans or the local media but from some of the biggest icons in team history.

Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin have expressed reservations about Williams. Troy Aikman joined in on the fun, too. All of a sudden, the ring of honor has encircled Williams to publicly ponder his status as a star of stars.

Aikman criticized Williams during the 2008 season when he had minimal output after coming to the Cowboys via a trade with the Lions during the bye week.

When asked if Williams could be a No. 1 receiver, Aikman recently expressed some doubt.

"I don't know (if he can be the No. 1), he struggled last year, I don't think that is a surprise to anybody," Aikman said. "I think that's going to be the real key to this season, is to whether or not Roy Williams can absorb some of the production lost that will be felt by Terrell Owens not being on the team."

Aikman went a step further and said if Williams doesn't have a big year, it could be one of the worst trades in NFL history.

"I don't think you can give up what the Cowboys gave up for somebody and not make that a sure bet," Aikman said. "If Roy Williams doesn't turn out to be the player they thought he would be when they made the trade, I think this would be one of the biggest busts in the history of the league."

Williams was dumbfounded when he heard Aikman comments. But he refused to get in a war of words.

He said he respects Aikman, Irvin and Sanders and is trying to grasp their points of view.

He said he is motivated to have a big year in Dallas because he wants to do whatever he can to help the team win. Williams denied feeling added pressure because of the criticism or his new role because he has always been a No. 1 receiver.

"I have done this job before," Williams said. "I have been the No. 1 guy everywhere I have been at Odessa Permian, at Texas and in Detroit, so I don't know what the difference is.

"My biggest thing is winning. All I want to do is win. My goal is 75 catches, 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. But If I catch two balls and win that will be OK. I'm trying to prepare myself for the season. I am trying to get myself better to make this team better."

Williams blamed his poor numbers last year on injuries to himself and quarterback Tony Romo, who missed the first three games in which Williams played with Dallas, and a lack of opportunities. Williams feels the Cowboys didn't know how to use him or didn't trust him because of a lack of familiarity.

Williams is doing all he can to remove those obstacles.

He and Romo began workouts over a month ago -- well before the start of the offseason program and before the team released Owens. The two play catch roughly four days a week in attempt to gain trust and create chemistry.

"We were doing it before (T.O.) got cut," Williams said. "I came in the middle of the season. I probably got thrown to 24 times the whole season. I had to get (Romo's) confidence. We had to get on the same page. So we had to start early. Everything is going good. We are trying to get that connection."

CowboysHQ Top Stories