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T.O. expected to be a no-show for Raptors' home debut

Six-time Pro Bowl receiver Terrell Owens is not expected to be with the Wranglers for tonight's game

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By John Boyle
Herald Writer
EVERETT -- When the Everett Raptors make their home debut tonight against the Allen Wranglers, there are sure to be points galore and a festive environment.
What there likely won't be at Comcast Arena is the biggest sideshow in the Indoor Football League.
That would be one Terrell Owens, the six-time Pro Bowl receiver who is now a part owner of the Texas-based Wranglers and also a player. Owens scored three touchdowns in his debut with the Wranglers last weekend, but is not expected to play in the team's road games this season.
Yet while Owens is not expected to be on hand for today's game, Raptors coach Sean Ponder says he can't assume anything as his team readies for its second game. Ponder said he doesn't know "for 100 percent" that Owens won't play.
"You've got 25 active players and you don't have the ability to just juggle guys around, so if they're keeping an extra guy who doesn't play in away games, I don't know how they're doing it," Ponder said. "Trust me when I say (Wranglers coach Patrick) Pimmel wants to have all of his weapons. We're good friends, but what he's going to do he would never tell me, just like I wouldn't tell him our plans. So I don't know who they have coming.
"And if Owens shows up, my mentality is I don't care who is on the field. If he shows up, he's just another player who is in the way of us trying to win a championship."
Ponder said Owens showing up -- or more likely not showing up -- will say something about the receiver's motives. If Owens, who has publicly stated a desire to get back to the NFL, is serious about using his time with the Wranglers to achieve that goal, he ought to be playing every game, Ponder reasons.
"I just think that this league is meant for guys to move up to the next level, and if T.O. wants to use this as a stepping stone to get back to the NFL, that's great," Ponder said. "If that's what he's doing, it's a great reason to come in here, get himself in shape and do those things. ... If T.O. is using it as a stepping stone, it's great for him. Time will tell.
"If he shows up (tonight), he's obviously in it for the right reasons. If he isn't, then I don't know, I guess you have to question that."
Even without Owens, the Wranglers are a tough opponent. Allen won its opener 50-30, and last year went 10-4 and advanced to the IFL playoff semifinals. Ponder described the Wranglers as a veteran team with some NFL-caliber linemen.
"They've got to be one of the top couple of teams in the league," Ponder said. "It's a great test for our players to see where we rank and if we can play with the big boys."
Last weekend's opener was also a great test for the Raptors, who lost 70-44 in the Tri-Cities against last year's league runner-up, the Fever. Despite the loss, Ponder saw plenty for his team to build on.
For starters, the Raptors have a lethal quarterback-receiver combination in Charles McCullum, who passed for 269 yards and seven touchdowns, and Andre Piper-Jordan, a former Everett Community College baseball player who had three touchdowns and 114 receiving yards. Even better, Ponder said, was the way his team stuck together in the face of adversity.
"The biggest thing that I saw was that guys played all the way through, we didn't stop, we didn't quit, we didn't point fingers," he said. "They played together, and the team chemistry is something I can't coach, they've got to have that on their own. Knowing that they've got each other's backs and they'll play hard for each other, we're already way ahead of it."
Now, the Raptors hope that chemistry, along with a home field advantage, will lead to an exciting night of football and the first victory of this young season.
"Any time a team plays its first game at home, the players have that extra adrenaline, the guys are excited to be back here," Ponder said. "I know the guys are excited to show Everett what we've got and put on a show."
Story tags » Football

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