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Originally published August 17, 2012 at 8:03 PM | Page modified August 18, 2012 at 6:10 PM

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Seahawks' Terrell Owens put in the offseason work needed to return to the NFL

If 38-year-old receiver Terrell Owens doesn't make the Seahawks' roster, it won't be for lack of effort this offseason.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Saturday

Seahawks @ Denver, 6 p.m.

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Terrell Owens' reputation preceded him in Seattle.

That's unavoidable given that his career includes his own reality-television show, a trail of messy breakups with NFL teams and a stop on "Dr. Phil" earlier this year.

That's tabloid fodder, though. Background noise that won't have a thing to do with whether the man makes the Seahawks roster at the ripe old age of 38. When Owens suits up for the Seahawks on Saturday in Denver, the only part of his past that's going to matter is the work he put in to prepare for this opportunity. And boy, does he look ready, whether it's running routes in practice, signing autographs shirtless after practice or being timed running 40 yards in 4.45 seconds during his Seahawks tryout the first week of August.

"His workout was extraordinary," coach Pete Carroll said. "That doesn't just happen. You have to spend hours and hours, days and days, months and months to get that done."

Owens' future in Seattle depends not on what he has done with any of his previous five teams, but what he can still do a year after he missed a season because of knee surgery. So far, the results have been impressive. During practice Wednesday, Owens twice ran past rookie cornerback Jeremy Lane.

"He's fast, and looks like he hasn't lost a step," said quarterback Matt Flynn, who will start Saturday. "It's like he's gained a step instead."

In a league where 30 can be considered old, Owens will turn 39 in December, and he's coming off surgery to repair a torn knee ligament. But talk to Travelle Gaines, the trainer who has worked with Owens since January, and there's nothing surprising about Owens' performance.

"Not from a physical standpoint," Gaines said. "Terrell Owens' workouts are legendary, the things that he's done as far as his body and getting ready. The thing that has been the most convincing and fulfilling to me is his attitude."

Owens is the kind of guy who'll send a text message if he's going to be 5 minutes late, and was more than willing to run routes during workouts with younger players like Andrew Luck, whom Gaines also trained.

Gaines said there were plenty of days this offseason when Owens would drive from Los Angeles to San Diego in the morning to work out with quarterbacks Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer, then drive back to L.A. to train with Gaines in the afternoon.

"He would drive all over Southern California," said Gaines, who runs Performance Gaines training.

The comeback trail that included hours on freeways has put Owens back on an NFL field. Saturday will be the first NFL game in more than a year for the player who has more receiving yards than anyone besides Jerry Rice.

Owens was not available for interviews this week, the player renowned for seeking attention trying to focus on performance, not publicity. After all, it's results that are going to determine whether he sticks with Seattle, not his reputation.

Notes

• TE Zach Miller will not play in Saturday's exhibition game after suffering a slight concussion last week.

• RB Marshawn Lynch did not appear in the exhibition opener, and might not play this week. Carroll declined to say what his plan is for Lynch's playing time in August.

• WR Sidney Rice has been cleared for contact in practice, but he won't play Saturday.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @dannyoneil

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