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The new era for the Buffalo Bills started with Wade Phillips and continued with Rob Johnson and Antowain Smith. Add Eric Moulds to the ever-growing list.

The former No. 1 draft pick was rewarded with a starting job after fighting through two frustrating seasons with the Bills before breaking through this year.

"I knew the ability was there," Moulds said. "I just had to get my body in shape and get mentally focused on what I had to do. I knew if I did those things, I could show the people why I was a No. 1 pick."

Moulds will start the season in place of 11-year veteran Quinn Early when the Bills begin their season next Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

"Whatever's good for this team, I support it," Early said. "Of course, I have an ego and I feel like I'm a starter and can make plays for this team. They want to give Eric some confidence, he's had a good training camp and they feel he should be the starter. That's fine with me."

The Bills' top pick out of Mississippi State in 1996, Moulds offered what Buffalo hopes is more to come when he turned a 14-yard pass from Johnson into a 52-year gain in the Bills' 27-17 victory Friday over the Washington Redskins.

Playing behind Early and Reed, Moulds had few opportunities to show he belonged in the NFL. And the ones he did have, he often blew.

Last season, after the Bills finished their 6-10 season, Moulds went back to his home near New Orleans and re-evaluated his career. He also worked out with Pro Bowl cornerbacks Aeneas Williams and Deion Sanders.

If that wasn't enough, he had Reed in one ear and Early in the other. The two veterans told Moulds to keep pushing himself, and he would push them.

"Those guys kept telling me that my time was going to come," Moulds said. "They were backups before they were starters, too. Andre wasn't always a Pro Bowler. He had to prove himself."

Moulds stamp on the preseason came Friday when he broke free from cornerback Darryl Pounds and went down the left sideline. He made a good cutback move on Redskins safety Darryl Richard before being dragged down at the Washington 33-yard line.

"I'm starting to get comfortable with (the starters), and they're starting to get comfortable with me," Moulds said. "I'm having a good time out there."

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