Bledsoe, of course, has heard the chatter about whether Romo should take over the starting position. On the exterior, at least, he seems unfazed, even after his pedestrian performance in the Cowboys' season-opening loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"If you're going to play in this league for any amount of time, you have to respond positively to adversity," Bledsoe said. "That's something I've always taken pride in, bouncing back from a loss or a bad performance."
By Bledsoe's standards, at least, Sunday's performance was just that: bad. He completed 16 of 33 passes (48.5 percent) for 246 yards and a touchdown, but also was picked off three times.
But this also is a quarterback who is among the most productive in NFL history. He ranks fifth in league history in attempts and completions, seventh in career passing yards, and his late touchdown pass Sunday to Terrell Owens moved him into sole possession of 13th place on the NFL's all-time list with 245. His 246 yards Sunday give him 43,693 yards in his career. Translation: Bledsoe's passes have covered more than 24.8 miles. He is less mobile than he once was (and he was never fast to begin with), but this remains a guy with a big arm and a lot of talent.
"Very high," he said, when asked how he'd rate his confidence in his own ability, saying that he keeps his confidence up by "preparing hard and practicing hard." When asked if he felt more pressure to perform with Romo lurking, Bledsoe mocked the reporter who asked the question.
"More pressure than my previous 13 years in the league?" he asked. "If you're going to play quarterback, if you don't relish and welcome the pressure, you're playing the wrong position."
Head coach Bill Parcells said it would be only natural for Bledsoe to hear the Romo whispers, but said Bledsoe's performance from here on out will be a result of how he handles adversity as it comes up.
"You can't go through this game, you can't participate in this game, without feeling something, completely devoid of emotion," Parcells said. "It's just not possible to do it. You just can't go through the game without emotion.?It's human nature. I've seen a lot of players react favorably to it, and I've seen some react unfavorably. Drew is not lacking for confidence."
Owens quickly distanced himself from questions about who should be under center for the Cowboys ("No questions about quarterbacks," he said. "If I move over to defensive end, then we can talk quarterbacks"). But he said Bledsoe appears completely confident, and that as the pair develops more timing and chemistry, he expects Bledsoe's productivity to climb after his inauspicious 2006 debut.
"He knows he's got to play better, just like I know I can play better," Owens said. "We'll play better and we'll feed off each other. Drew's a stand-up guy, and I have the utmost confidence in him."
Bledsoe said that Wednesday's practice brought a sense of relief as the Cowboys are fully immersed in preparation for this weekend's game against the Washington Redskins.
"When you lose in this league, the hardest thing is that you have a whole week before you go back out there," he said. "It's not like baseball or basketball or hockey, where you only have to wait a couple of days before you get a chance to play again. But getting out there today, we're on to the next game. We're moving on."
What? Me, worry?
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