T.O. works hard against Bailey, Bly -- once he gets to practice

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IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Once Terrell Owens finally got to practice Thursday morning, it didn't take long before the Cowboys receiver was again going head-to-head in drills against Champ Bailey and Dre' Bly.

Dallas and the Denver Broncos practiced against each other four times in two days. In three of the sessions, T.O. got to work against the Broncos cornerback duo of Bailey, the seven-time Pro Bowler, and the always talkative Bly.

"I love it. He's one of the best in the game and you don't get to see that every day," Bailey said Thursday. "Why not take advantage of that opportunity to go against one of the best?"

Owens was about 20 minutes late getting on the field for the morning practice and was on the field but not in pads for the afternoon session -- when the 33-year-old receiver got a break, as did Bailey for the Broncos.

"He's had three good practices, we didn't want to push him," owner Jerry Jones said of Owens. "Save him for the Giants" in the Sept. 9 season opener.

"Nothing to it, just relaxing, getting ready for Saturday," Owens said, when asked about not participating in the afternoon practice.

Coach Wade Phillips held T.O. out of three straight practices at camp in San Antonio so Owens could rest his sore legs and hamstring, and the receiver missed three other practices because of back spasms. Owens said he has no health issues now.

When asked about his tardiness in the morning, Owens said, "That's cool. (Phillips) already addressed it, so there's no need for me to address it."

Phillips actually didn't confirm that Owens was late.

"We had a player late for practice, and it's been handled," Phillips said, without mentioning Owens' name or elaborating, when meeting with reporters during a break between practices.

Jones said he was satisfied with how things were handled.

"He and Wade worked that out, and that's good," Jones said. "And both were very satisfied with how it worked out."

Responding to an earlier question, Phillips described Owens as "an effort player. He practices hard."

When on the field, Owens -- who had an NFL-high 13 touchdown catches in his Cowboys debut last season -- chatted quite a bit with Bailey and Bly during the sessions they worked together.

At the end of one play Thursday morning, Owens stopped before going back to the huddle and directed a few verbal jabs toward Bly. While it wasn't clear what T.O. was saying, Bailey said there really wasn't any trash talk.

"No, he's pretty cool. People get this perception about him in the media, but he's a real cool guy," Bailey said. "He's a guy you can talk to off the field and on the field."

Within minutes after stretching, T.O. was taking part in passing drills. He made an easy catch after cutting in front of Bailey, and beat the Pro Bowler another time for a touchdown -- leaving Bailey to shake his head after the play.

Owens didn't have as much success against Bly, who appeared to get extra snaps by going against T.O. as much as possible. One pass was thrown behind Owens, and the receiver cut off another deep route when he was unable to shake the defender.

There will be no more practice sessions between the teams, but they play a game Saturday night in Texas Stadium. It will be the second preseason game for both, each winners in their opener.

The last time Owens faced Bailey in a game, T.O. had the longest touchdown catch of his career -- in his last game for the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 30, 2005.

"Yeah, I remember it. It was pretty good," Owens said Wednesday with a smile, then correcting a reporter who called it a 90-yard TD. "91 to be exact."

After catching a short pass, Owens ran past Bailey, who then pulled up because of a hamstring problem.

Owens on Wednesday characterized his conversations on the field with Bailey and Bly as "just friendly talk" -- and said he valued the time to practice against them.

"It's good to just go out there and get some quality work done," Owens said. "I've played against those guys on different teams. They've been able to hold their own. Obviously, getting those guys will be a staple for their defense."

Broncos safety John Lynch, who's going into his 15th NFL season, said it's still a lot of fun to watch when Owens and Bailey line up against each other.

"When you've got guys who are the best at their craft, they take a lot of pride in what they do, and you want to go against the best," Lynch said. "They are the two best in the game right now at what they do."


Rosalind Williams, the mother of slain Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams, visited with the team and then attended the afternoon practice Thursday. She huddled with the team at the end of practice. Williams, a native of Fort Worth, was killed on New Year's Day in Denver in a drive-by shooting that remains unsolved.