Cowboys-Bengals Preview

Call them America’s Team’s expatriates.

Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson are among the
former Dallas Cowboys who now reside in Cincinnati. The Bengals and
Cowboys will meet Sunday night in the Hall of Fame game, and while
T.O. and the other veterans might not spend much time on the field,
they will draw plenty of attention when they are in the lineup.

Owens, of course, always gets the spotlight, whether he’s with
the 49ers, Eagles, Cowboys, Bills or, now, the Bengals.

”I’m a playmaker,” Owens said. ”I know Michael Irvin has
adopted that title, but that’s what I do and have done throughout
my career is make plays. The coaches know what I’m capable of once
the ball is in my hands. They’re going to get all of Terrell on the
field.

”I’m glad to be with my new team and we’ll see where it takes
us.”

For now, it’s taken them to Canton’s Fawcett Field, where Owens
will get some time with the regulars early in the first preseason
game. He’s never caught passes from Carson Palmer against an
opposing defense, and while it’s too soon to expect that connection
to click precisely, it’s never to soon to begin the process.

”I think the opportunity to play against other people is always
good,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. ”I don’t know if it’ll
affect Terrell and Carson as much since Terrell’s learning on the
move. He’s a veteran player. There are things he has done that
maybe we coach a little differently. The terminology may be
different in some instances, but he’s basically carrying what he
already knows.”

What Owens also knows is that he belongs in the Hall of Fame,
saying earlier this week all he lacks is the bust.

Pacman Jones hardly is in that class.

The defensive back was out of the NFL last season, none of the
32 teams willing to sign him after his repeated off-field problems,
including a run-in with a bodyguard that cost him his job in
Dallas. The Bengals, known for giving second chances, twice worked
out Jones before signing him in May.

Sunday night, he returns to the NFL on national television –
against the Cowboys.

”Whoever it was it would have been special,” Jones said. ”I
haven’t played a real game in a whole season.

”I have a lot of friends on the Cowboys. I talk to those guys
all the time. It was no love lost when I left there. People have to
make business decisions, and it is what it is. I’m happy to be a
Bengal.”

Johnson merely is happy to be healthy after a right foot injury
limited him last year. Johnson served an eight-game suspension in
2007 for off-field issues, but had no such problems with the
Cowboys or last season with Cincinnati.

”Injuries or not, I’ve been able to play through stuff most of
the time,” Johnson said. ”Being able to feel good going into a
game rather than having to get injections just to make yourself
feel good is a plus.”

Starters rarely go more than two series in this game. Lewis and
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips admitted that’s likely to be repeated
Sunday night.

Still, when the former Cowboys, particularly Owens, are on the
field, interest will be high.

”That’s the Cowboys North,” Dallas wide receiver Patrick
Crayton said.

”It will be good to see him again,” he added about Owens.
”Him and a couple of other guys that were here and stuff. It’s
always good to see old friends and old teammates.

”Is there anything about facing (Owens)? I never even thought
about facing him, because I don’t have to stick him.”

Tony Romo, who had his ups and downs throwing to T.O. over three
seasons, won’t carry any bitterness toward the former Cowboys into
the game.

”I know. Dallas No. 2,” he said with a chuckle about the
Cincinnati roster that also includes safety Roy Williams and
defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who have strong ties to the
Cowboys. ”Those guys are all good guys and we enjoyed having every
one of them. It allowed us to have great success when we were here,
in a lot of ways. It’ll be good to see them and say hi and wish
them good luck, hopefully not quite as good against us. I root for
them.”

AP Sports Writers Stephen Hawkins in Dallas and Joe Kay in
Cincinnati contributed to this story.