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BILLS QBS TURN THEIR FOCUS ON RAMS
BLEDSOE IGNORES FANS' CALL FOR LOSMAN

Drew Bledsoe and J.P. Losman said they didn't get much sleep in the days following Sunday night's loss at New England.

So it was with a sense of relief that both Buffalo Bills quarterbacks got back on the practice field Wednesday and started working toward Sunday's home game against the St. Louis Rams.

The focus for Bledsoe, who will start despite his 14.3 passer rating against the Patriots, is perseverance. He said he is good at blocking out all the external pressures of the game -- such as the legion of fans who want him banished to the sidelines.

The focus for Losman, who endured a rough, five-play outing in New England, is getting more ready for whenever he gets his next chance to take the field.

"I had a couple of long nights tossing and turning, now I'm moving forward," Bledsoe said as the 3-6 Bills prepared for the 5-4 Rams.

"I think the biggest challenge in playing the position of quarterback in this league is being hardheaded enough to move on after a tough week. That's the challenge I have.

"If you're going to play in the NFL, particularly the position of quarterback, you've got to be strong," Bledsoe said. "You've got to be strong enough emotionally and physically and mentally to fight those battles when it's not going right. When everything's going right, it's fun and sometimes it seems kind of easy. But when it's not going right, that's when the test of your character individually and as a team comes into play."

Bledsoe will try to jump-start an offense that ranks 30th in the NFL in scoring, 28th in yards and 27th in passing yards.

Losman had a fumble and an interception in an unexpected mop-up appearance. He said the stint gave him confidence that the left leg he broke in preseason can hold up in game conditions.

"It was bittersweet," Losman said of his debut. "I was very happy to get in there. It was fun. It was something I've been waiting for. But obviously it didn't go as well as I planned. . . . I haven't really slept the last couple days because of the performance.

"Probably the biggest thing I'm taking out of the game is getting it out of my head as I was dropping back," he said of his leg. "I don't have to think about it anymore. I know it didn't hurt. If it does, I'll just deal with it."

Losman said the leg definitely was on his mind since he returned to practice four weeks ago.

"It's hard to drop back when all you're thinking about is your leg or hopefully this doesn't hurt," he said. "Even when I did throw the interception I was thinking, 'I've got to tackle this guy.' (Interceptor Tully Banta-Cain) kind of hit my leg a little bit, but it didn't hurt at all."

Losman said he split duty with Shane Matthews in practice last week for the scout team, which runs the opposing offense's plays. Losman said he got a "couple" of running plays with the Bills' offense last week in practice. The starting quarterback takes the overwhelming number of snaps with the offense in practice on virtually every NFL team.

How does he react to the fact there are fans calling for him to start?

"It feels good to tell you the truth," Losman said. "It makes you realize how many people are behind you and counting on you. So therefore when it's time to go home, it's time to stay extra and it's time to get serious about this thing and hopefully don't go in there and screw it up."

Losman said Bledsoe has been encouraging toward him.

"After the game as soon as he walked into the locker room he was upset," Losman said. "He didn't feel like talking to anybody. But he still came up to me and said, 'Look, J.P., I know it didn't go as well as you planned or wanted, but congratulations on your first time getting in there, and you got your feet wet a little bit.'

"I'm still kind of shellshocked when I go into meetings with Drew Bledsoe. I've been watching him for so long. It's comforting to hear things like that."

Coach Mike Mularkey said he would not decide until Saturday if Losman would move up from No. 3 to No. 2 this week. Would the Bills have to be eliminated from the playoff race for Mularkey to turn to Losman?

"It would have to be the right situation," Mularkey said. "Whether you're out of it or not, and we're far from out of it in our eyes, it has to be the right place at the right time where you don't put him in a situation where it's a negative in his development. But also you want to make sure you're still in position to win football games. If you're asking him to do things that will help win that game, maybe it's the time. I can't tell you exactly the score, the time of the game. I can't do that. It has to be the right time, and I don't know when that will be."

Mularkey said Losman still is being held back by not being on the practice field Aug. 23 to Oct. 20.

"It was somewhat of a setback not being able to be on the field because of the injury," Mularkey said. "Being in meetings and all that has helped him stay at a level, but not at a level where you can come back and be effective on the field. He's getting it."
e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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