Owens asked not to come back for a week

Updated: August 11, 2005, 8:55 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens left Philadelphia Eagles training camp Wednesday after being suspended until next Wednesday by coach Andy Reid.

Theismann on Eagles
Wednesday, Aug. 10
Joe Theismann

I'm not sure what happened to cause Terrell Owens to leave camp, but I am pretty sure of the consequences and that is that the Eagles are short on veteran receivers.

This team wasn't going into the season with a great set of receivers even with T.O. with last week's loss of Todd Pinkston to injury, but this incident will set the Eagles offense back.

Eagles' executive Joe Banner and coach Andy Reid have to start looking around the league to find a veteran receiver to come in and play just a month before the season starts. To successfully transition a new guy in to Reid's system they should look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers because they run similar systems. That's imperative because of the nature of Reid's system and also because of the lack of time to get ready that they find someone who can walk in and have an idea of what's going on in the playbook.

Looking forward the Eagles may not be in terribly bad shape if the Eagles have to go the entire season without Owens. They are primarily a defensive team anyway and will still have Donovan McNabb, who has played without top-notch receivers his entire career with the exception of last season, helming the offense. This isn't a team like the Packers who will rely on their offense to win games. The Eagles can win those 13-10 ballgames because of their defense and will do it this year if they must. Also, Coach Reid is a very good play caller and will put McNabb in favorable positions regardless of who is at the receiver position.

All in all this isn't the time for Eagles fans to panic.

Joe Theismann, a Super Bowl-winning QB and former NFL MVP, is a regular contributor to Insider.

ESPN's Sal Paolantonio reported Reid told Owens to leave after Owens "dropped an expletive" on him during a heated exchange about the wide receiver's practice session that was conducted apart from the team. Owens then left for his Moorestown, N.J., home where media members found him later Wednesday.

"I got sent home until Wednesday for whatever reason," Owens told Comcast SportsNet for a TV interview from his front lawn. "It was just a difference of opinion. I was defending myself."

Comcast SportsNet reported the disagreement occurred during a team meeting. Owens then got his belongings and cleared out of training camp at Lehigh University.

"T.O. was asked to leave by Andy Reid," Owens' publicist Kim Etheredge said. "I don't think that it was heated, it was a difference of opinion. I don't know if there was an argument."

Owens did not say what the argument was about.

"If the truth needs to be told, then that's what I'll do," Owens said. "If he [Reid] wants to be a man about it and have me really go on the air and really tell the people what happened, then I can. It was a difference of opinion."

The Eagles responded with a brief statement:

"Terrell Owens has been sent home from training camp due to undisclosed team issues. He is expected to return to the team on Wednesday, August 17th."

Owens' agent Drew Rosenhaus said: "Basically, the coach told him he should take a rest and get some rehab and [Reid] would get back to him in a few days."

Owens is unhappy the Eagles have refused to redo his contract as he enters the second season of a seven-year, $48.97 million deal. He hired Rosenhaus and threatened to skip camp completely. Instead, Owens reported, then injured his groin last Thursday.

He was day to day and the injury wasn't considered serious, but he missed practice Wednesday for the fifth time in six days.

Owens worked out with the team's assistant trainer for about 20 minutes on a separate playing field from his teammates, catching balls from a machine and doing some light running. He did not speak to reporters or acknowledge the fans who chanted his name.

Owens also skipped a scheduled autograph session with the rest of the Eagles' receivers after practice.

"He was unable to attend because he was injured," Etheredge said.

Owens said the fans have been great, but he didn't sign autographs at the tent because he was rehabbing his groin. He also said he was having fun at camp, even if it didn't look that way.

Since arriving at camp Owens has been distant on the field with his teammates. After signing autographs and slapping hands with fans on a nearly daily basis at last year's camp, Owens has jogged on and off the practice field without much acknowledgment of their chants and screams of support.

"Just because I don't talk to everybody, that's up to me," Owens said. "Everybody needs to understand the situation is all business, it's nothing personal. The situation is between me and management. They know what's going on.

"I think some people are kind of ticked off because I haven't really said much. They don't pay me to go in there and talk to everybody and be friendly to everybody. They paid me to play and they paid me to perform. That's what I've been going in there and doing."

The Eagles had a special teams practice Wednesday afternoon and Owens was not required to attend.

Last season, Owens had 77 receptions for 1,200 yards and a franchise-record 14 touchdowns before severely injuring his ankle late in the season. He missed the final two regular-season games and the first two playoff games before returning for the Super Bowl, in which he had nine receptions for 122 yards.

While Owens has been an off-field distraction, the Eagles sorely need his production. Todd Pinkston is on injured reserve and out for the season with a torn Achilles' tendon, and the rest of the wide receivers -- Greg Lewis, Billy McMullen, and Reggie Brown -- are young and inexperienced.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.