Cowboys QB Romo begins to build bond with new top target Williams

SAN ANTONIO -- Tony Romo and Roy Williams are starting to get down their timing.

Romo and Williams had easily their best day of training camp Wednesday, one week after the Dallas Cowboys started practicing at the Alamodome. They repeatedly hooked up, even on tough plays, during the morning session. Although they weren't as crisp in the afternoon, everyone came away pleased with their progress.

"It's feeling real good," Williams said. "It's only a matter of time before it starts clicking. You'll look and see, and we'll have turned the page."

Romo's No. 1 receiver with the Cowboys always had been Terrell Owens, but he moved on to the Buffalo Bills. Williams is now in that top position, so he and Romo need all the practice they can get.

Seeking improvement

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Last season was Roy Williams' worst as a professional. He played the first five games with the Detroit Lions before being traded to Dallas and playing 10 games with the Cowboys. Here are Williams' 2008 statistics:

» Games/Starts: 15/11

» Catches: 36

» Receiving Yards: 430

» Yards Per Catch: 11.9

» Touchdowns: 2

» Longest catch: 38 yards

The duo started throwing together several weeks before summer practices, then had organized team activities. After about a month off, it took until the eighth day of camp for them to really shine.

"You're dusting the rust off, continuing to learn one another," Williams said. "That's why you have training camp and that's why you have preseason games."

Williams caught just 16 passes for 160 yards and no touchdowns in the eight games with Romo after being acquired from the Detroit Lions last season. The only touchdown pass that Williams caught as a Cowboy was thrown by Brad Johnson during the receiver's first two games, when Romo was injured.

An obstacle in their progress was the presence of T.O. and all the passes thrown his way. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones took care of that by cutting Owens and making it clear that part of the reason was to turn Williams into Romo's top target. Williams is eight years younger than Owens and has a five-year, $45 million contract.

Asked about Wednesday's hookups between two of his highest-paid and most-scrutinized players, Jones smiled and said: "More of that to come."

"He's been running good routes, and he's been having good practices. Now it's just a matter of us doing what we do," Romo said of his connection with Williams. "He's a big part of the offense. We definitely need to have good chemistry and have good correlation as to what we are both going to do consistently, and I think we're good now."

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said he was encouraged by the times that Romo threw the ball to Williams before he would cut to where the pass was going.

"You really have timing when you do that," Phillips said. "Both of them seem to be on the same page more than they have been."

Romo also is learning to throw to Williams when it looks like he's covered. It's a show of faith that Williams will make the right move at the right time and be able to make the catch.

Phillips said the harmony between quarterback and receiver especially was evident on a play in which Williams was the second option. Romo's first choice was a receiver running a short route, but that guy was covered, so he heaved the ball to Williams down the sideline.

"I thought those were really encouraging things for us," Phillips said.

Phillips said Romo and Williams' slow start to camp was no surprise.

"It takes some time," he said. "They had pretty good timing without the pads on. You get the pads on, you get people bumping around, the route changes."

Since the pads came on, Williams also has impressed Phillips with his ability to adapt to different types of defenders.

"If a guy is really banging him, he'll rip through him real physical," Phillips said. "But if you get a finesse corner on him, he can handle that."

Said Williams: "To me, it's just throw it wherever, and it's my job to make the catch, even if it's an acrobatic catch or a tough catch."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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