.O.’s back! Hallelujah, T.O.’s back! The most watched hamstring in civilization got a workout this morning as Terrell Owens got off the bike and ran a handful of patterns on the near field. Head trainer Joe Jurasek placed four cones in a square, with each leg of the square being roughly fifteen yards long. Owens would stand in one corner, run straight ahead to a second cone, make a 90 degree cut either left or right, round the third cone and run back to the original cone, in a triangular pattern. T.O. ran about four of these at half speed with a bungee harness around his waist. Jurasek held the other end of the cable and pulled against Owens, offering slight resistance. (The Cowboys have two of these bungee cables. T.O. used the black, or thinner cable. The thicker yellow one is reserved for the linemen.) Owens and Jurasek then dropped the cable and went to running at a faster pace. Owens ran about five or six of the triangle patterns at about three quarters speed. He grimaced a little once the drills were over but otherwise showed no discomfort. My prediction? T.O. plays in the Saints game on the 21st. In the meantime, there was a practice on the far field. The Cowboys again wore full pads and again put in a lot of contact work. The highlight of the individual drills was the one-on-one pass blocking drill pitting the OLBs against the TEs and FBs. The linebackers won this drill regularly last preseason during my camp week. Today, the tight ends put up a much better front. Lousaka Polite looks much improved over last year, when he blocking was erratic. He looks stronger and more aggressive. He and Jason Witten were the only two offensive members who could regularly stand up and push starting OLBs Demarcus Ware and Greg Ellis wide of the QB. Polite’s consistency makes him, in my opinion, a safe bet to make the final roster. Ware and Ellis were the standards for judging the other TEs. Witten, as I have mentioned, held his ground against them but didn’t have as much pop as Polite. Tony Curtis could handle the second team guys like Kevin Burnett, twice throwing Burnett to the ground. He had far more trouble with the starters, however. Rookie Anthony Fasano ran hot and cold. He could also block the second teamers but was beaten badly by the starters. His lunges on some of his blocks and does not have his timing down. His results are therefore all or nothing; when he connects, he gets the job done. But when he doesn’t, he looks like a matador waving a bull into the backfield. He’ll need a lot more work before the season starts. The highlight of the right side came when Jason Witten and Jason Fabini took out some frustration on Jay Ratliff, double-teaming him into the ground. The front sevens again ran the broken line run blocking drill they used on Monday and Tuesday. The results were roughly the same. Jason Fabini blocks best among the three RT candidates; Rob Petitti has some push but loses balance and winds up on the ground too much; Marc Colombo is either on or off. The starters looks solid inside. The starting trio of Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode and Marco Rivera consistently got a deep push against their defensive opponents. Outside, Flozell Adams continues to round into condition. He’s got power and pop and is flashing it more and more every day. The rookies Pat McQuistan and Jason Hatcher are now falling into a pattern; McQuistan gets the better of Hatcher on running downs, but Hatcher gets him back in the passing drills. The team then went 11-on-11 running. The defense got the better of most scrums but the o-line had its moments. A counter play right behind a pulling Kyle Kosier and Fasano blew a big hole in the right guard/tackle gap. The second team offensive line scored some clear wins in its matchup against the second team. McQuistan and left guard Corey Proctor opened two holes for Marion Barber. The team later went 11-on-11 in passing drills and Drew Bledsoe showed some increased sharpness. He was the best operating the offense, outperforming Tony Romo, who finally cooled down a touch after a hot week and a half. One factor in Bledsoe’s favor was improved protection. Bledsoe, as we know, is as good as his blocking and this morning his blocking was strong. The secondary also looks strong. Anthony Henry against had an interception in the mid-field scrimmage. Later, during a goal line drill, the secondary read every play action pass and forced three incomplete throws. I have my doubts, however. I think the d-backs have seen the offense so much they can predict what’s coming. I want to see them play another team before declaring them fit. They do look good, however. Parcells ends each practice with a red zone or two minute drill. Yesterday, he had his offenses start at their opponents 45, with 45 seconds left in the half and one time out. All units sputtered. Bledsoe’s unit got into field goal range, but that was it. Henson got a chewing for letting time run out, even though he had a time out in his back pocket. “What are you going to do with that time out, Henson, take it to the dance?” yelled Parcells. Today the offense looked crisp in a late practice red zone drill. Bledsoe drove them to an easy TD. Romo moved the ball inside the five before the defense stopped two goalline runs. Henson moved his group inside the ten and spiked the ball before the kicking team ran on to post three points and end the day. Better protection was again key; the lines look more comfortable working together. Notes: You want a potential crisis? Forget T.O. Think kicker: Mike Vanderjagt was three for six in his field goal drill this morning. He resumed pushing the ball right, as he has all camp. He then overcompensated, hooking the ball left before making three of his last four. He’s not kicking off. I’ll make no predictions. I’ve never seen Vanderjagt prepare and everything may shake out by the time the real games start, but he looks sloppy. The Cowboys have practiced fades and stop fades a lot in every passing drill. These patterns could play big roles in the ‘06 game plans. Last year the Cowboys split their team with the 3-4 and the 4-2-5 nickel. This year, the nickel appears maybe 10% of the time. The conversion to the 3-4 is complete. The safety units seem set. Roy Williams and Keith Davis get all the snaps with the first team while Willie Pile and Pat Watkins get all the reps with the second unit. I don’t see Marcus Coleman doing much. He’s very much on the bubble.