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RAMS COACH EYED LOSMAN IN DRAFT

St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz was a fan of Bills rookie quarterback J.P. Losman before April's draft.

Losman was one of a handful of draft prospects the Rams invited to their headquarters in the weeks leading up to the draft. There was speculation around the league that St. Louis would have taken Losman 24th overall if the Bills had not moved up to 22nd to select him.

"We really liked him," Martz said in a conference call with Buffalo media. "He's very accurate. The things that we look at in a quarterback to draft, we ranked him very high in all areas. He's very accurate, he's very intelligent, very competitive. We loved his competitiveness. High energy, tough, intelligent.

"Those are the things we really look at hard -- the energy to move the team and stay up and stay on top of things and handle (mentally) all the things that you do. But accuracy was such a big factor. The bonus for him is he's so good on his feet, moving around and being able to do all the impromptu things when things fall apart. I think he's got a terrific future. When that begins, that's hard to think about. It's just an unusual thing to have any rookie come in and have any success right away."

On starting a rookie quarterback, Martz said, "I never had to start a rookie in the National Football League, thank God. I don't know how to do that. It would scare me to death, especially a guy who hasn't had any practice time."

On the challenge of changing quarterbacks, Martz said, "I've always felt with the quarterback position you stay with him as long as you possibly can. You just do. I've had a situation here in the past where you feel like you have to make a change, and at that point it has to become obvious to you. And if it's not (obvious) and you're not sure, you can't make that change."

Bills coach Mike Mularkey confirmed undrafted rookie Rashad Baker will start at free safety. Baker replaced Izell Reese in the first half at New England, after Reese was beaten on a long pass.

"When he's had some opportunities I think he's made some plays for us," Mularkey said of Baker. "He's not afraid to stick his nose in there if you need a hitter at safety. We know that with Rashad being a rookie, you're going to take some lumps here and there. That's just the nature of the business. But I think he's a guy who will learn from each one he takes, good or bad."

Baker probably has the best hands of any Bills safety.

Meanwhile, Chris Kelsay will make his third straight start at left defensive end. He has won the starting position over Ryan Denney, with whom he alternated the first half of the year.

Defensive back Troy Vincent (knee) did not practice and remains very questionable for Sunday. Receiver Josh Reed (knee) is doubtful. Safety Coy Wire (abdomen) returned to practice and also is questionable.

Rams star receiver Torry Holt is questionable with a concussion suffered against Seattle on Sunday. But he was able to practice Wednesday.

The Rams will be playing their third option at left guard against the Bills, Tom Nutten. Chris Dishman is out four to six weeks with a knee injury. Scott Tercero, who started four games, went on the injured reserve list this week. Nutten, who spent the 1995 season with the Bills, was out of football last year.
e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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