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Owens returns to Bills practice after nursing toe injury

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- With Terrell Owens' sore toe finally healed, his next step is seeing whether he can boost the Bills offense which has been limping through the preseason.

Just don't expect him back for Buffalo's preseason finale against Detroit on Thursday.

After missing three weeks with a sprained toe, Owens returned to practice on Monday and declared he'll be ready to play in two weeks for the regular-season opener against New England.

"We're going to be smart about it," Owens said. "We've got the big opener to the season against the Patriots, so that's where my focus is right now."

Coach Dick Jauron also said there's "not a good chance" Owens will play Thursday.

In other injury news, middle linebacker Paul Posluszny missed practice after hurting his jaw in a 17-0 loss at Pittsburgh last weekend. Defensive end Aaron Schobel (left elbow) and running back Fred Jackson (sprained left wrist) returned to practice Monday.

With the entire session closed to the media, Owens said he took part in all individual and team drills, and added his toe felt fine. Owens said the injury was not a result of something he did during the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 9, but instead due to a new type of shoe he was wearing that was causing discomfort.

Minus his familiar red spikes that he's worn during practice for most of training camp, Owens sported a soft-blue colored pair as he left the field.

Owens' return raises hopes that he can get the offense moving forward once again.

The Bills (1-3) are coming off their worst offensive performance of the preseason.

In six full series with the starters against the Steelers, Trent Edwards went 6 of 13 for 31 yards and threw an interception that was returned by linebacker James Farrior for a touchdown. It was the second consecutive dreadful outing for Edwards and the starting unit which has yet to generate a touchdown drive this preseason.

In 15 series over four games, Edwards has gone 26 of 38 for 189 yards with three interceptions and a lost fumble. The starting offense and its new no-huddle attack has generated just 279 yards, 15 first downs and been limited to a field goal.

Edwards has taken the brunt of criticism. His longest completion in the past two games -- including a 31-21 loss at Green Bay on Aug. 22 -- has been a 16-yarder on a short pass over the middle to running back Dominic Rhodes against Pittsburgh. Edwards has also appeared tentative in the pocket, including when he was sacked and lost a fumble inside the Bills 10 against Green Bay.

Entering his third NFL season and second full year as Buffalo's starter, Edwards remains confident, and dismissed questions about whether he and the offense are regressing.

"Obviously, we're not going in the direction we want to go right now. But there's no reason why we can't go in the direction we want," Edwards said. "We have the pieces here, and that's the bottom line. That's why I'm still confident."

Jauron acknowledged some of the blame falls on Edwards, but noted the entire offense has made mistakes.

"It seems like the last two weeks it hasn't been acceptable for anybody," Jauron said. "There's no getting around it: We've just got to improve."

Owens' absence has been part of the problem. Without Owens, opponents have returned to previous form by focusing their coverage on receiver Lee Evans and bunching up at the line to stop the run.

Owens isn't worried, and chalked up the offensive troubles to the Bills experimenting during the preseason.

"Obviously, I understand the fans' frustration. Obviously, they want to see some production, see some big plays. But that'll come," Owens said. "I definitely feel once I get back into the swing of things and everybody's fresh and back together as one unit, then things will happen for us."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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