Source says defensive players support Owens

Updated: December 12, 2008, 9:30 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The rift between Dallas Cowboys stars Terrell Owens, Tony Romo and Jason Witten is wider than just those three players, a source inside the team's locker room told ESPN's Ed Werder on Friday.

The source told Werder that the majority of defensive players on the team supports Owens' contention that Romo is overly reliant on Witten and often throws into coverage trying to get him the ball while ignoring Owens in a situation where he could make a play.

One starting player told Werder: "We are not together as a team, and that includes the coaches."

Dallas defensive back Terence Newman told ESPN's "First Take" on Friday that reports of a rift are blown out of proportion. Newman said that Owens hadn't said a bad word to anyone, and that, as a defensive player, he'd like Owens to get the ball more.

Newman said that offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has an open-door policy and both Romo and Witten, along with wide receiver Patrick Crayton, had been in to talk to their coach.

Mosley: Secret meeting

Cowboys wide receivers Terrell Owens, Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton requested and were granted a meeting with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to express their concern that quarterback Tony Romo was relying too heavily on close friend and Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten. Blog.

• Blog network: NFL Nation

He also said that team chemistry is "great," but insinuated that when Cowboys coaches make a mistake, they shift the blame to others and the players have noticed it.

In his weekly radio spot on 1310 "The Ticket" in Dallas, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said a meeting took place with Roy Williams, Crayton, Owens and Garrett. He said it was nothing out of the ordinary.

"[Owens is] interested in the ball to win the game," Jones said. "He knows if he can get the ball, we have a better chance to win the game. We all agree with that."

Jones said that he visited with Owens for 10 or 15 minutes during practice on Thursday, but said the subject of the meeting with Garrett did not come up. "Not that he [Owens] feels slighted or he feels like there's some type of favoritism going on," Jones said.

Owens vs. Witten

Reports say Terrell Owens thinks Tony Romo is favoring Jason Witten in his play selection. A look from ESPN's Next Level data team at the passing breakdown between the two players:

  Owens Witten
Passes thrown to ('08) 87 80
Passes caught ('08) 43 57
Passes thrown to ('06-'08) 336 286
Passes caught ('06-'08) 186 201

Jones also said that Garrett encourages "continual communication."

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said reports that the team is in turmoil are untrue. "I don't agree," he said.

"Enough talking. We need to get it done," Phillips said.

The comments come a day after a source who speaks regularly with Owens' teammates told ESPN that Owens believes Romo and Witten -- close friends and road roommates who arrived at Dallas in the same offseason -- hold private meetings and create plays without including Owens.

Owens believes these discussions have worked to his detriment and that Romo seeks to deliver the ball to Witten, regardless of whether Owens is open.

More from ESPNRadio.com

Dallas' Jason Witten discusses the latest controversy and says he doesn't think that Terrell Owens is feeling left out and that he and Tony Romo don't script plays together. Podcast

Owens didn't speak to reporters in the locker room on Friday, The Associated Press reported. The Cowboys held a team meeting Friday morning, but neither Phillips nor players provided much details.

"This has nothing to do with the media or anyone else who is not a Dallas Cowboy," Williams told The Associated Press. "I am a Dallas Cowboy, therefore I am loyal to the Dallas Cowboys."

Deluged with questions about whether the Cowboys (8-5) are trying to mend divides at a crucial point in the season, Phillips dismissed the reports.

"Everything is set straight as far as I'm concerned," he told The Associated Press. "I think the players, too. We'll see."

Owens declined to discuss the situation on Thursday outside the Cowboys' locker room. As he walked toward the players' lounge at Valley Ranch, ESPN asked Owens if he would answer questions and he said, "Nope.''

But later Thursday, Owens told The Dallas Morning News: "I'm not jealous of Witten. I'm not jealous of nobody. I can take the approach that I got paid, so screw everything, but that's not me.

"I just want to win. I'm not trying to create a war of words with anybody. I thought we had a productive meeting, and I just talked to Jason about Tony reading the whole play because other people are open besides Witten."

Witten appeared Thursday afternoon on ESPN Radio 1050 in New York.

"Tony and I have been friends for a long time, way before either one of us were playing that much," Witten said. "I don't think we're drawing up many plays together to be completely honest, but I don't think Terrell feels that way. I think he knows he's a playmaker, and we try to go to him, and we have other guys we try to get the ball, too."

Information from ESPN's Ed Werder and ESPN.com's Matt Mosley is included in this report

ALSO SEE