Skip to main content

T.O. given clean slate with Bills coach Jauron, who's happy to have receiver

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- When it comes to dealing with new players, Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron starts every relationship with a clean slate.

And that includes T.O.

Though well aware of Terrell Owens' disruptive reputation, Jauron said Wednesday that he is keeping an open mind in welcoming the Bills' new wide receiver to Buffalo.

"Our relationship will grow from when we met in my office this weekend. That's where our relationship started, and it'll develop from there," Jauron said in his first comments since the Bills signed Owens to a one-year contract Saturday. "I approach every guy that comes here as a unique guy."

Unique might not begin to describe Owens, whose combination of great talent and mercurial personality has left mixed impressions with each of his previous three teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, who cut him last week.

And Jauron isn't putting on blinders either, but he insisted he'd rather decide on his own whether Owens deserves a bad rap.

"I'm not trying to cover anything up," Jauron said. "But if you think that emotional outbursts don't occur on every sideline every Sunday, you're sadly mistaken. ... To the degree he's had them? Maybe. Do they get the publicity that he gets? No."

Owens' combustible nature aside, Jauron was more excited to discuss the potential the wide receiver has to spark a popgun Bills offense that has ranked among the NFL's worst over each of the past six seasons.

"Clearly, he brings to our squad some of the things we've needed and felt we lacked," Jauron said. "When you compete in a division that's as good as our division is, you better get good. And you better have it every where to compete. And he brings that."

The Bills have struggled to remain competitive this decade in an AFC East that has featured the perennially powerful New England Patriots and includes the resurgent Miami Dolphins. Buffalo hasn't even kept up with the inconsistent New York Jets.

The Bills are coming off three straight 7-9 campaigns under Jauron and haven't made the playoffs in nine seasons, the longest drought in franchise history, and matching the Detroit Lions for the longest active drought in the NFL.

The opportunity to add a player of Owens' caliber was too much to pass over. Jauron said he met with team executives and scouts early Friday, one day after Owens was released by the Cowboys, and immediately began devising a plan to sign him.

"When you look around in free agency, or you look at the college draft ... and there's a player available that's got 951 catches and 139 touchdowns, that clearly grabs your attention," Jauron said. "It didn't take us long at all to come to the conclusion that we needed to push this fast."

Owens, even at 35, has shown few signs of slowing down. His 38 receiving touchdowns over his three seasons in Dallas are seven fewer than Buffalo has scored over that span.

Of course, the question is how the Bills can keep Owens happy by consistently getting him the ball alongside No. 1 receiver Lee Evans and with a young quarterback in Trent Edwards, who's coming off his first full season as a starter.

Jauron declined to list Owens as a No. 1 or 2 receiver and noted his entire receiving corps will have its opportunities.

One thing Jauron was impressed with in researching Owens, is that he's noted for having a strong work ethic. Jauron, however, wasn't sure whether Owens would take part in the Bills' voluntary offseason minicamps.

"My hope is that he's here," Jauron said. "He knows how important it is for us, particularly in his first year here with us."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.