Trent Edwards said he's a big fan of J.P. Losman. Replacing him as the Bills starting quarterback isn't on his mind, he said, beating the New York Jets Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium is.
But while all that may be true, the rookie out of Stanford has been handed a rare early chance in his career to show his coaches, teammates, fans and media if indeed he's got the makings of becoming a productive NFL quarterback, and maybe even a star. Do the latter and replacing Losman, whose career is stuck in neutral, will happen by nature running its course.
Losman is out at least two weeks with a grade 1 knee sprain, meaning Edwards -- a third-round draft pick who some scouts felt could've been a low first-round pick -- will start against the Jets and the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 8 before a national TV audience on Monday night.
"I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help this team win," said Edwards, when asked just how big an opportunity this is that he's been handed. "That's really been my attitude from day one here, trying to improve as fast as I can and trying to learn from the experience I do get and trying to learn from watching J.P. I'm not trying to look at it any broader perspective than just that."
Edwards' assignment is daunting.
He assumes the reins of an 0-3 team decimated by injuries, a team whose offense and defense rank dead last in the NFL at 32nd.
Working in his favor is that both his scheduled starts will be at home.
In the Jets (1-2), he'll see an opponent closer to Buffalo in talent than the New England Patriots (3-0), who whipped the Bills 38-7 last week after knocking Losman out of the game on the first play.
The Jets play a similar 3-4 scheme as New England's due to their coaching ties but rank 28th in defense, 30th against the pass, and had to hang on for a 31-28 victory against Miami last Sunday.
Edwards had a terrific start against the vaunted Patriots, guiding the Bills on a long touchdown drive, completing four of five passes for 55 yards. But the balloon quickly burst as New England made adjustments and Buffalo's offense managed just 104 total yards over the final three quarters.
Edwards said he's feeling "anxious, nervous and excited," about starting his first NFL game with a full week of preparation.
"There's still that frustration from last week's game with some things I need to learn and I want to apply that to this week's game and learn on the field," said Edwards, who was 10 of 20 for 97 yards against New England. "There's a lot of emotions that I haven't felt for a long time so I need to handle those with maturity and be able to perform on Sunday."
Edwards' maturity, huddle management and calm demeanor under pressure have impressed his team. The coaching staff began the week with a heavy package of plays and are whittling to a number Edwards can handle. It will still be an impressive package, coach Dick Jauron said, because Edwards is bright and confident.
"He's a young guy but I have a lot of confidence in his mental abilities, and he has a real positive demeanor," Jauron said. "As a quarterback, he handles himself well on the field."
Jauron knows the Jets' main goal will be to fluster Edwards with an elaborate array of blitzes.
"Generally, with a young QB, the immediate impression is you want to pressure him to see how he'll handle it," Jauron said. "We prepare for that, but the league is a pressure league anyway, it's part of everybody's package."
It will be vital for Edwards to defuse that pressure with screen passes or hitting the occasional deep ball, providing his protection holds.
"They run very similar defenses and have similar personnel groupings," Edwards said of the Jets and Patriots. "They look very similar in the little I've seen of the Jets defense. It's pretty similar to what we faced (last) weekend. So that'll hopefully help me out as well."
No doubt his supreme confidence will help, too.
"I don't think the word 'overwhelmed' is in my vocabulary," he said. "To someone who doesn't play football, it may seem overwhelming, but they're trying to put themselves in your position. That's the nature of the sport. It's a lot to handle and the ones that can handle it can play this game for a long time."
They even take over starting jobs.
SERIES HISTORY: 93rd meeting, Bills lead series 50-42. Teams split road wins last year (28-20 Jets and 31-13 Bills). From 1988-97, Buffalo swept eight out of 10 season series. Since 1998, the old AFL rivals have split all but two seasons ('98 and '02) when the Jets swept. In 2002, an overtime kickoff return for a touchdown by the Jets' Chad Morton beat the Bills in their season opener and in 2005, a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by the Jets' Justin Miller beat the Bills in their season finale.
--After J.P. Losman sprained his knee in the loss to New England, the Bills had no choice but to put a call into veteran Craig Nall, who they cut coming out of training camp after electing to carry just two quarterbacks. Nall said coach Dick Jauron was less than forthcoming with him about his future with the team and left with a sour taste in his mouth after getting just 19 pass attempts in the preseason as the club concentrated on preparing rookie Trent Edwards to be the No. 2 man. Luckily for the Bills, he was still living in Buffalo, he hadn't signed with another team and he doesn't hold grudges, not when playing in the NFL is still your dream. Nall had encouraging workouts with Atlanta and Houston. Jauron on Wednesday would not commit to keeping Nall on the roster for the rest of the season once Losman gets healthy, but he's happy to have him. "I don't think he was particularly happy with the situation (being cut), but it's part of the nature of our business and he knows that," Jauron said. "He told me he recognizes what a great opportunity it's been for him to be in this league. ... We're glad he's back, he knows the system, he's a good guy, everybody likes him in this building, and he fits for us. It made a lot of sense, but I wouldn't get ahead of ourselves here."
--Buffalo's 0-3 start coupled with its injury epidemic has people wondering how the club's morale is. "Adversity is a part of life," CB Jabari Greer told buffalobills.com. "You have to be able to take it and still hope to be successful. It's definitely tough. It's tough to lose by the margins that we've lost by the last two weeks. But as a man and a player and friend to these guys, I can't give up. We can't give up on each other."
--The Bills had made it a point to keep TE Kevin Everett's locker stall intact with his jersey and equipment as a way to physically feel his presence as he recovers from a spinal-cord injury suffered in the season opener against Denver. But reality took over this week. With seven players on injured reserve, six that still come to the stadium each day for treatment, and new players being signed to the active roster or practice squad, the Bills have literally run out of locker space. So this week, Everett's former space was assigned to someone else. Jauron felt badly about it. "I wasn't aware that occurred," he said. "We've got a lot of people coming in and out and they might have needed the locker, but it doesn't have anything to do with not remembering Kevin."
--LB Paul Posluszny, the second-round pick from Penn State who was off to a good start to his NFL career, could handle the pain of a broken left forearm suffered last Sunday against New England. What really hurt, he said, was letting down the team. "I don't care about the arm," said Posluszny, whose season was ended when the team placed him on injured reserve. "They brought me in here to do a job and that's to play middle linebacker for this defense. Now I'm out. That's what hurts the most." Spoken like a true football player.
--New England DT Vince Wilfork had this to say on Boston radio station WEEI-AM about the possibility of being fined by the NFL for his dangerous hit on Losman: "Hopefully, they'll see something and want to overturn it, but I'm pretty sure that won't happen, especially because it is a quarterback that I hit, so ... Hey, I'm not losing any sleep over it, so you guys shouldn't worry." Wilfork may have been shoved from behind as he hit Losman's planted left leg but replays also showed he appeared to shoot his elbow out at the quarterback's knee with some intention to inflict injury. Losman will miss at least two games with a Grade 1 sprain.
BY THE NUMBERS: 32 -- Where Bills rank in total offense and defense.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We just go. That's what we do. That's what we all do really when things happen to you, you've got a choice and you can either feel sorry for yourself or move on. And our guys chose to move, which is the right decision. We don't ignore things. We don't try to push them aside where they are out of view or out of our view, but we need to move on. They're really good about it. They are. They're real professional about their approach. They'll be all right in that regard. We've just got to perform better." -- Coach Dick Jauron, addressing his team's morale in the wake of an 0-3 start and injury crisis.
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