In a pinch, Losman could be a weapon

Trent Edwards is the starter. J.P. Losman is the backup. Nobody's disputing that. But on Sunday, Losman showed glimpses that he could hold the fort down when needed...

There isn't a quarterback controversy.

Trent Edwards' thigh will heal, and he will start on opening day. But at least Russ Brandon can safely remove Daunte Culpepper's agent from his speed dial. At Indianapolis Sunday night, J.P. Losman efficiently justified his role as the team's No. 2 signal-caller.

Typical Losman freelance mistakes were nil. He was crisp and decisive in the pocket, and he orchestrated two time-eating drives that netted the Bills' an early 10-0 lead in their eventual 20-7 win. While it's unknown whether Losman could become a locker-room cancer just yet, at least the Bills have an adequate back-up to punch in when in a pinch – one role Losman has succeeded at during his career.

Losman went 13-of-19 for 108 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in one half of play.

His two scoring drives consumed more than 17 minutes, ending in a chip-shot Rian Lindell field goal and a one-yard plunge by Xavier Omon.

Give Losman credit for shining sans two of the Bills' top weapons – Roscoe Parrish and James Hardy. He made timely decisions in rhythm, a trait that has arrested his development in the pros.

While Losman may never turn into a poised, consistent passer, he has wheels. Knowing when to stay in the pocket and when to scramble has been a tricky push-and-pull complex for Losman to grasp. Against Indy, he managed to find the happy medium.

On Buffalo's second scoring drive – at his own 10-yard lone – Losman scampered for 10 yards on third-and-7. Back against the wall, clutch play. Multiple Colts' defenders had a shot at smashing Losman, but the fourth-year quarterback cut against the grain and earned the first down, barely. Such pressure-packed plays have usually tipped the other way in Losman's career. But not Sunday. Losman also hit Lee Evans (12 yards) and Justin Jenkins (nine yards) for other key plays on the drive.

"I was pretty happy with how we played in the first half," said Jauron. "I thought J.P. did a nice job of handling the offense, which was very good for us to see."

Added Losman, "We weren't perfect on every play but we were able to bounce back," said Losman. "The team showed signs of success even when things are not perfect. We were still able to put together long drives like we did and that's a good thing to see."

Make no mistake about it. The Bills have rallied behind Edwards' cool-customer leadership style. He's miles ahead of the elder Losman in reading defenses and going through progressions. But at least for this season, Buffalo appears confident with the talent behind the starter. At some point, Losman may need to enter the field in spot duty. It will be a knee-jerk, unexpected insertion.

And Sunday, Losman further proved he can succeed under such circumstances.

While he has struggled mightily as an undisputed starter, Losman has done fairly well when asked to play in a snap. When Edwards sprained his right wrist last year against the New York Jets, Losman went 3-for-5 for 113 yards and a deep score to Evans to lead the Bills' to a win in an otherwise lethargic, plodding game. Two years prior, when Kelly Holcomb suffered a concussion against Kansas City, Losman swapped his ball cap for a helmet and threw for 137 yards and two touchdowns to Evans.

Odds are, Edwards won't start all 16 games this year. Too much can go wrong. Minor injuries may dog him as the wrist did briefly last year. Maybe - if only to better himself for a contract down the road - Losman can efficiently run the Bills' offense in Edwards' absense.

Sunday, with Edwards' out, Losman did it again. And really, that's all Buffalo needs from him this season: On-call, emergency duty.

thdunne@gmail.com


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