IRVING, Texas - Terrell Owens acknowledged yesterday having missed a random drug test several weeks ago, blaming it on a "communication problem involving cell-phone numbers."

He also said he was in New York last week talking about his absence with league officials the day he agreed to a $34 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys.

Owens was not suspended or fined, although he could have been, according to ESPN.com, which first reported the story, citing NFL, team and player sources. The report also said Owens now could face up to 24 tests per year as part of the league's "reasonable cause" testing program for performance-enhancing drugs.

"I'm not really worried about anything," Owens said. "It's not a big deal. Anything I do is going to grab headlines. I have nothing to hide. I've made a statement and that's it. It's basically a dead issue."

In the rest of the statement, Owens said: "It was openly discussed and cleared up in a meeting that I had at the NFL office last week. I have been in the NFL for over 12 years and have never had a positive test for substance of any kind. That includes tests that took place as recently as last month. The matter was resolved to everyone's satisfaction last Tuesday, and everyone has moved on."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also released a statement in which he referred to the testing issue as "a procedural matter that was resolved last week."

According to ESPN.com, the phone number Owens gave testers as his primary contact belonged to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and that an alternate phone number was answered by a voice mailbox that was full.

"We were aware of all of the facts prior to Terrell's meeting in New York, and we had no reservations about extending his contract," Jones said. *