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Todd Collins could use a little rest and relaxation now that the Buffalo Bills' season is over.

"I think we all need a rest," Collins said. "When you've had a rocky road, it makes you want to get more rest than usual. I'm going to get away for a little bit."

After the season he endured, Collins' attitude is understandable.

As any Bills follower knows, Collins' first season as a starting quarterback was, in a word, disappointing. He finished 29th in the NFL passer ratings. He got worse as the season wore on. He failed to spot open receivers. He too often failed to connect with open receivers he did see. He rarely made plays on his own when his pass protection was less that adequate -- which was often.

He heard the team owner express deep reservations about his future. And he had the starting job taken away from him twice -- first in the ninth and 10th games of the season and then in the season-finale against Green Bay.

The benching for the final game was especially ominous for Collins' future. The game meant nothing to the Bills, and the team easily could have started Collins and had him share time with Alex Van Pelt. However, the coaches chose to deal another blow to Collins' standing on the team by sitting him in favor of Van Pelt, who it turns out was suffering from a serious shoulder injury.

The Bills' decision-makers refused to say they had given up on Collins. But their actions indicated they couldn't bear to see him start another game this year.

It's apparent the Bills are going to try to find another quarterback to bring in as the designated starter at training camp next season. Will Collins be back as a challenger for the job? That may depend on who else the Bills can find.

Collins said his status with the team is something he can't worry about.

"I'm not going to make that decision," Collins said about whether he will return. "I've got another year left on my contract and I'm looking forward to coming back. I have some things to work on. This was my first year starting, and obviously there's definitely room for improvement."

Collins is perplexed by the way his season went downhill.

After seven games, he had directed the Bills to a 4-3 record. Even though two of those wins were squeakers over the worst team in the league, Indianapolis, Collins had performed a bit better than expected.

"We did a pretty capable job through the first half of the season, not a perfect job by any means," Collins said. "I think it was going pretty much the way we expected. But after the Denver game (the eighth of the year), myself and the offense weren't as consistent, not that we were tearing it up the first half."

Accuracy was supposed to be one of Collins' strengths. However, he hit just 49 percent of his passes over his last seven games.

"I'm not big on stats, but I remember the first half of the season I was leading the AFC in completion percentage at 61 1/2 percent (through seven games)," Collins said.

"Since then it was obvious I wasn't as accurate. The frustrating part is sometimes you just don't know why.

"I don't know. There's a lot that goes into the passing game -- a lot. It's not just throwing the ball."

The best things about the 6-foot-5 Collins remain his size, his arm and -- if he can rediscover it -- his accuracy. The biggest questions remain the intangibles -- his poise, his feel for the game, his leadership ability.

"I still believe the tools are there," general manager John Butler said. "I know one thing, he's a very tough young man -- mentally and physically. (The jury) is still out."

Collins suffers from inevitable comparisons with his predecessor, Jim Kelly, because his personality is so unlike that of Kelly. Collins is laid back, understated. Kelly was brash and cocky.

Collins says doubts about his leadership ability come down to one thing -- winning.

"I think it all has to do with how successful you are. If you're winning and you have a fiery quarterback, all of a sudden everybody says that's what you need. You're winning because he's fiery. If you're a low-key guy and you're winning, people say, 'That guy's cool, he has poise about him. He doesn't get flustered.'

"But if you're losing, people say the fiery guy is crazy and needs to keep an even keel," Collins said. "And they say the low-key guy needs more fire. So the bottom line, I think, is results."

Collins is going to start the offseason by getting away from the questioning. He and teammates Ruben Brown and Tony Cline are going on safari to Africa in January. Then it will be wait-and-see time for Collins.

"I hope to be back," he said. "I like it here. I like living around here. I don't know what's going to happen as far as offensive personnel moves. I can't worry about it. I have no control over it."

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