IRVING, Texas | Not far from the unoccupied locker of suspended cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones, receiver Roy Williams talked excitedly Wednesday about coming home to play for the Dallas Cowboys.
The still-frustrated Terrell Owens, who has struggled to get open and is without a 100-yard receiving game this season, spoke nearby. During his sometimes terse 10 minutes, Owens said he looked forward to having Williams on the field and called Jones’ situation unfortunate.
Then there was quarterback Tony Romo.
Romo made several throws during an early walkthrough, then appeared briefly in the locker room with the broken pinkie finger on his throwing hand heavily wrapped before escaping quickly without comment. Later, during part of the 25 minutes of practice open to reporters, Romo remained on the sideline with trainers.
Later Wednesday, ESPN.com quoted a “high-ranking Cowboys source” that Romo had told coaches he’s ready to play Sunday.
For now, the Cowboys are trying to move ahead without Romo and Jones, who is gone at least four games - maybe much longer, possibly forever.
“It’s unfortunate. We can’t really dwell on who’s not here. We have to worry about the people that are here,” Owens said. “But we still love Pacman like a brother and a teammate.”
Jones is barred from the Cowboys’ facility during his suspension, the full length of which will be determined by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after Dallas plays Nov. 16 at Washington. Goodell said a lifetime ban remained a possibility.
For the Cowboys (4-2), who have lost two of their last three games, they have to overcome all the distractions and get ready to play Sunday at St. Louis.
“Our team was real focused,” coach Wade Phillips said after practice. “Some of it bands you together. That is what we try to preach. … It’s difficult, but I think it’s something you have to do.”
The NFL said Jones’ reinstatement will depend on strict compliance with treatment plans by the league and the Cowboys and an evaluation by “clinical experts.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that would include alcohol counseling, though the owner wouldn’t go into specifics about any of the prescribed treatment plans that would be voluntary.
“He played hard for us, and he gave us everything he had,” Keith Davis said. “We only wish him the best, first of all. Hopefully everything goes back in his favor and he gets a chance to maybe play again.”
Still, much of the talk in the locker room was about the acquisition of Williams, a fifth-year receiver who will play opposite Owens.
“This was a good fit, and he’s certainly going to help us once he gets integrated,” offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said.
Williams, the Lions’ 2004 first-round pick who is an Odessa native and played at the University of Texas, could take some of the defensive pressure off Owens, who has only 23 catches and has become increasingly frustrated.
Owens had only two receptions for 17 yards Sept. 21 at Green Bay, and other teams have duplicated the Packers’ pressure coverage on Owens. He was still expressing frustration after he caught seven passes, took two handoffs and had 11 more balls thrown his way the next week at Washington.
Owens and Williams were catching passes at practice from Brad Johnson, the 40-year-old quarterback who Sunday will make his first start since 2006 for Minnesota. Romo was on the sideline with trainers during part of the 25 minutes of practice open to reporters but did make several throws during a brief walkthrough.
Williams goes from a winless team to a legitimate playoff contender that he rooted for growing up. The Cowboys have already given him a five-year extension on a contract that was set to expire after this season.
“I’m just another body out there that can catch a football. That’s my God-given talent. My thing is I think I’m a possession wide receiver. I think I can complement T.O. pretty good,” Williams said. “I’m just looking to have fun and help this team get to the playoffs and win a Super Bowl.”