So What Did You Expect?

persisted, this time on the relationship between his mercurial wide receiver and Bledsoe and how he'll deal with any potential uprisings, "Really, I'll tell you, it's pretty much of a non-factor to me. I'm not paying attention to that. I'm trying to coach my team. You think I'm worried about that? No, I mean seriously, you think that's what I'm worried about? 

"I'm worried about the Spearses and Flozell Adamses and the key players for me that I don't know what they're going to do. I don't worry about that. I honestly mean it." 

So it took no more than Friday afternoon's conditioning run and half the first practice of camp for the real worries to begin; not the projected ones over T.O. or Greg Ellis or Keith Davis. For now, those guys aren't issues. Ellis worked. Davis ran well. 

But now there is Spears, for the second consecutive training camp having suffered a knee injury. This time, the meniscus in his right knee is torn, and he will have arthroscopic surgery back in Dallas on Sunday. This will cost the second-year former first-round pick about two to three weeks of practice. Not good. 

As for Flozell, see Larry Allen, Camp 2005. Remember when Parcells did the same thing with Allen, placing him on active PUP when he basically quit running during the conditioning run last summer? Well, my guess is Adams, who by the way, looks as fit as I've seen him in years, didn't fair so well during Friday's conditioning run. Truth of the matter, he's probably never faired well. 

But this time, either Parcells chose to make an issue of Adams' inability to complete the run in the specified time - players know if he'll do this to a two-time Pro Bowl veteran, imagine what he might do if I'm some free-agent rookie - or he wanted Adams to continue conditioning so he could take an early, but extended look at some young guys (rookie Pat McQuistan), along with veteran Marc Colombo returning from a couple of seasons of inactivity after suffering a severe knee injury in Chicago. 

Bet on Adams returning to practice by Tuesday or Wednesday, or at least once the early-camp exuberance of those rookie defensive linemen trying to make an impression has worn off. Parcells realizes he can't take any chances with his most indispensable player (more evidence to support my summer case). 

But T.O.?  

Why worry now? The time to worry was before Cowboys owner Jerry Jones handed him that $5 million signing bonus, basically guaranteeing his $5 million base salary for 2006, totally a $10 million outlay. That's when you worry, not now. 

Now you just smile at your added talent, your added attraction and Owens' ability to create a competitive atmosphere in training camp. 

Hey, you think Terence Newman didn't hear the fan dog him for first allowing Owens to block him on a running play and then give up a reception to Terry Glenn on a wonderful sideline catch? Oh he did, basically with his hand motioning the loudmouth to come on out. You don't think that makes him work just that much harder in practice? 

Hey again, these guys are competitors. They got egos. And I guarantee you they don't want to get beat ever, or embarrassed in front of some 5,000 people even if this is only the first practice of training camp, with the season opener a good six weeks away. 

"You already got something to prove to yourself and your teammates, and then you got to prove to (the fans), too," Newman said. 

So just knowing No. 81 is lining up across from you creates a little practice juice? 

"That does," Newman readily admits, "but at the same time we've got some players who are hard to handle like Terry Glenn. We got the Jekyll and Hyde of receivers. One's big and strong and the other is short, quick and fast. 

"You're going to face big receivers and small receivers, so it's good to practice against both types of receivers." 

So hardly shocking, this T.O. Day One. But, then, this ain't over. We must go through, as I previously predicted for the T.O. Return Tour, the reaction to his first preseason game, his first preseason game at Texas Stadium, his first regular-season game, his first regular-season game at Texas Stadium and then his first game at Philadelphia as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. You

MICK SHOTS

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