Cowboys WR Williams repeating frustrating refrain

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IRVING, Texas (AP)

While his lower-paid teammate breaks records, Cowboys receiver Roy Williams sounds like a broken record. The player who cost Dallas three draft picks and a $45 million contract extension has offered the same refrain for weeks now. He's frustrated. He can't get on the same page with Tony Romo, and doesn't know why. He's much happier simply winning in sunny Dallas than he was losing in snowy Detroit. Williams skipped to a slightly different tune this week by saying he still considers himself the No. 1 receiver despite mounting evidence to the contrary. He said "things are just going No. 2's way," referring to Miles Austin. The less-celebrated Austin has more yards and touchdowns in the past three games than Williams has in his first 16 with the Cowboys. Austin set an NFL record with 482 yards in his first three starts, while Williams has 447 yards for the equivalent of a full season in Dallas. The former University of Texas standout found himself backpedaling Thursday, a day after suggesting Romo's throws are accurate to Austin and all over the place to him. Cowboys coach Wade Phillips made a similar observation Monday, but the reaction to Williams saying it raised the specter of Terrell Owens. Dallas dumped Owens and his demanding demeanor during the offseason after widespread reports of locker-room disharmony last year. "I didn't complain that I didn't get the ball," Williams said. "All I said was that, when it comes to me, it's not there. I'm not saying it can't be fixed, because that's what we do every day. "I'm not a T.O., or I'm not trying to be a T.O." Austin's big chance came in part because of one of those errant Romo-to-Williams throws. Reaching to try to catch a high throw against Denver, Williams took a hard shot to his ribs. The damage forced him to miss the game at Kansas City a week later, when Austin started and set a franchise record with 250 yards and scored twice. Austin has five TDs in three games. Williams, meanwhile, has just three touchdowns in a year with Romo. He has 33 catches, not even close to his lowest total in four full seasons with Detroit. The quarterback is far from concerned, though. Romo says he ignores the numbers and raves about what Williams does in practice. And don't even start with questions about whether he's missing the throws to the high-dollar guy on purpose. "You know, we've been through this before with people trying to intersect and divide us as a football team," Romo said. "This team is too strong from the core. This team is too committed to winning and too committed to improving to let anything like that ... divide this team." Williams figured to be Romo's top target among wide receivers after Owens was released, but he didn't have the numbers to back it up. Although he had a 1,310-yard season in 2006 with the Lions, he hasn't come close to 1,000 yards any other year. He scored 23 touchdowns his first three years combined, but has just nine since. Phillips maintains it's just a matter of time. Because he doesn't have much to go on in games, he talks about practice. He started this week by saying Williams makes catches "that nobody makes" during workouts. When the questions persisted two days later, he offered an example: a behind-the-back marvel that coaches kept playing back on video because they couldn't believe it. Of course, the example leads to the question why the ball was behind Williams in the first place. "If we had the answer, we'd do it quicker," Phillips said. "The only answer is to keep working, and both of them are doing that. Roy Williams not having a big year for us so far hasn't kept us from being 5-2 anyway." Williams points out that it hasn't kept the Cowboys from having the No. 2 offense in the league, either. "Everything is working for us: offense, defense and special teams," Williams said. "The only thing that isn't working for us is Romo-to-Williams and it's a big deal. It's the only thing that y'all have to talk about." In T.O.'s old locker room, habits are hard to break.
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