It was certainly an encouraging sign when Terrell Owens stepped onto the practice field on Tuesday to do some rehabilitation drills for his sprained toe with Buffalo's athletic training staff. Owens worked his way through a rope ladder on the ground moving in and out and forward and back at about half speed.
But he's not at the point where he'll be healthy enough to play in the Bills Saturday preseason game at Pittsburgh.
"He won't play this weekend," said head coach Dick Jauron. "But he felt the best he's felt today. He was working out here earlier with our trainers."
What encouraged Jauron even more was after going through 20 minutes of rehab drills, Owens stayed on the field and watched the remainder of practice.
"In the past the one day that he came out and worked we didn't have him stand on it," said Jauron. "After working on it he said it felt good enough to stand out and watch the rest of practice."
Owens, who politely declined to comment on his way to the locker room, was paying close attention during the team portions of practice. He would listen to the play call and line up 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage directly behind the receiver in his position. At the snap of the ball he would walk through his assignment on the play.
While it's safe to say that Owens is closer to returning to action, Jauron is not going to make a determination at this point as to whether the veteran receiver will be able to play in the team's final preseason contest on Thursday Sept. 3.
"I wouldn't make any predictions on that," said Jauron. "I'm just going to wait and see how he feels."
Having only played about 10 snaps in the Hall of Fame game thus far this preseason, and the possibility of not seeing any more game action before the opener in New England on Sept. 14 isn't of any great concern to Buffalo's head coach. He's confident a 14-year veteran will be ready for the first regular season game whether he sees any more preseason playing time or not.
"It's not like he lacks experience in the National Football League," said Jauron. "The main thing would be to just get the timing back with the quarterback on the field."