T.O. expected to be game-time decision

IRVING, Texas -- Terrell Owens was still limping Monday on his sprained left ankle and his status for the Dallas Cowboys' playoff game next weekend was uncertain, though some teammates expect him to play.

"Absolutely, we're all counting on him playing," Jason Witten said. "He's a tough guy. Nobody wants it more than he wants it himself to get out there and play. He's a quick healer, and he looked good out there, I thought."

Coach Wade Philllips said Owens was limited in a light workout Monday, the first for the top-seeded Cowboys (13-3) since learning they will play the New York Giants in the NFC divisional playoffs Sunday -- and the first for T.O. since he sustained a high ankle sprain Dec. 22 at Carolina.

"It looks to me that it's going to be a game-time decision on him. ... It's Monday game week. He probably couldn't have played today," Phillips said. "It was a limp-through for him, a walkthrough for us."

Owens wasn't yet on the field during the short period of time at the beginning of the workout that was open to reporters, but Witten and Patrick Crayton were encouraged by what they saw once T.O. joined them.

"I don't know if 81 (Owens) is at full strength, but he's good enough to where he said he was going to practice this week so he can get some timing back and everything," Crayton said.

"It's going to be great to have him back out there on the field," Witten said. "Obviously, he's our playmaker and he makes all of our jobs easier, and helps our team win."

Owens, who has 81 catches for 1,355 yards and an NFC-high 15 touchdowns, wasn't seen during the open locker room period Monday. Team spokesman Rich Dalrymple said Owens didn't plan to talk until after the game.

Despite the optimism expressed by Crayton and Witten, the coach remained cautious when asked repeatedly about Owens' status.

Phillips, who last week hoped Owens could return to practice Wednesday or Thursday, said the dilemma is determining "what percentage" the receiver is going to be healthy before deciding if he will practice or play.

"If he were able to practice Wednesday or Thursday, Friday maybe, it'd clarify things a little easier," Phillips said. "If he can't (practice), that's why I said it'd have to be a game-time decision.

"From his history, from his toughness, his ability to withstand those kind of things, I think those are all positives," he said. "But you still don't want to put him in harm's way."