Even superheroes can feel the X-ray vision of an NFL opener.
Before Thursday’s practice, Terrell Owens, complete with orange T-shirt emblazoned with a black Batman logo, couldn’t hide the anticipation of his 15th NFL season, debut with his fifth team, and opening act with
“I think I have a lot to live up to, living up to the Batman and Robin thing. I’ve got to come out there and hit on all cylinders,” Owens said of Sunday’s date in New England against the Patriots.
Owens is no stranger to Bill Belichick defenses. In two games last season with the Bills (including the opener at Gillette), he caught two balls in both tight losses to the Pats. But he had a big Super Bowl against New England while with the Eagles at the end of the 2004 season when he had nine catches for 122 yards. He didn’t beat the Pats for a touchdown, but he was playing on a broken leg, too.
Belichick is known for taking away the best things an offense can do and daring it to beat his team with its secondary weapons. Owens’ 147 career TDs are not secondary weapons.
“I’m pretty sure he’s going to throw a lot of Cover 2 in there. He has to do what’s best for his defense and stop whether it’s run or pass. It’s not going to be just about me and Chad all the time. We have a capable back in Cedric (Benson) to get some things going and get in the secondary and make things happen. We’re going to try to be a balanced offense as far as our attack is concerned.”
Everyone’s key matchup is New England’s starting cornerbacks with a combined five NFL starts against Owens and The Ocho, a tandem that is a combined 97 yards away from becoming the NFL’s second duo to ever have 15,000 and 10,000 career yards, respectively.
“If there are opportunities to take advantage of the youth then I think Chad and myself and this offense, especially with Carson leading the way, then we have to exploit those situations,” Owens said. “But we’re understanding how they play and the schemes that they play and we just have to take advantage of the opportunity. We’re probably looking forward to playing (against) a lot of Cover 2 and if there are some one-on-one matchups then that’s when we’ll have to exploit those.
“We don’t’ really look at the experience. Those guys are paid just like we are. Sometimes, the experience factors in there at some point during the game. They are defensively sound. That coach and that staff will have those guys ready.”
Palmer and the coaches have raving about how quickly Owens has come in and picked up the playbook, a class that started just six weeks ago Thursday. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski says he’s been everything a coach could ask for. Palmer says he’s learned an offense quicker than anyone he’s ever been around. But it hasn’t been easy for Owens.
“I wouldn’t say complicated, it’s just a lot different from what I’m accustomed to,” Owens said of the scheme. “If you assess my career and what system I’ve been in, it’s pretty much been West Coast (offense) and when I was with Dallas and with Buffalo it was sort of like a hybrid as far as the number system and West Coast system. But this right here is totally foreign to me as far as route combinations, sometimes, and depths and individual routes themselves.”
The 15,000th yard (Owens needs 49) can come on a field with a future 15,000-yarder in the Patriots’ Randy Moss, a 100-catch guy in the Patriots’ Wes Welker, and The Ocho needs 48 yards for 10,000. Owens and The Ocho are set to become the only tandem besides Oakland’s Jerry Rice and Tim Brown at the turn of the century to play together when one had 15,000 and the other had 10,000.
“It just shows you there is a lot of talent on the field. With every year there is always the new budding talent,” Owens said. “I look forward to the opportunities. Randy and I have faced each other a number of times.
"You see what Chad has been able to accomplish over his career and I think Randy and myself, those things kind of speak for themselves. You look at the things Welker has been able to do over the last four or five years is an awesome thing to see. It’s a guy who definitely was overlooked and probably thought of as underrated, but he has proven himself and made himself a big factor in that offense.”
Yes, even Batman’s stomach can feel like bats fluttering around a cave on Opening Day.
“Once you have played a while you get used to four and sometimes five games in the preseason, it gets old. You get a little antsy, you are ready to strap it up and get things rolling,” he said. “It’s one of those things where you have to be patient.
“Tonight, I think everybody will be kind of sitting around watching and anticipating the first game tonight with the Minnesota Vikings and the Saints. Everybody is looking forward to it, not only the players, but the fans across the country.”