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Moulds' patience is tested Receiver adjusting to eighth starting QB

Eric Moulds would be the first to say it hasn't been easy. He speaks with Marvin Harrison every week and is reminded how the Indianapolis Colts receiver remains a key player in their offense. He's envious of the relationship Harrison built with quarterback Peyton Manning, the polished and proven veteran.

Moulds can only imagine where he would be if things were more stable throughout his career with the Buffalo Bills. They've used eight starting quarterbacks during his 10 years in the NFL. They've had six offensive coordinators and four head coaches. Each time, Moulds has been forced to make an adjustment.

And each adjustment takes time.

"Marvin knows what to expect every week," Moulds said. "He knows Peyton is going to look for him. He knows Peyton is probably the best in the game at making adjustments during games. I'm in a situation that's a little different. I've had different quarterbacks and had to adjust to their style. It's a little tough, a little frustrating."

For his 599 catches, 8,328 yards receiving and three Pro Bowl appearances, Buffalo might not have witnessed Moulds' full potential. Since Jim Kelly retired after Moulds' rookie year, it's been a revolving door at QB. There was Todd Collins, Billy Joe Hobert, Doug Flutie, Rob Johnson, Alex Van Pelt, Drew Bledsoe and now, J.P. Losman.

"I wouldn't change anything as far as getting drafted here, but it would be better, like Andre (Reed) had Jim Kelly for most of his career," he said. "I had the controversy with Doug and Rob. I had Billy Joe Hobert. It was tough because the guys I had -- Todd Collins and those guys -- were young. I've never really had a guy who, every week, I knew he was going to look for me."

Moulds has been waiting for Losman to get comfortable with the offense, and it has been a trying experience at times. There's no disguising the fact that he had one catch for 8 yards last week against Tampa Bay. He has five catches for 48 yards in two games going into the Bills' contest Sunday against Atlanta.

At times, he was open against the Buccaneers. At times, Losman found him. Regardless, it amounted to only one completion.

"I haven't had a difficult time finding him," Losman said. "I see that he's open, and usually we're connecting. Last game, I was a little inaccurate on the times that he was open. It wasn't any kind of miscommunication. It was just a bad throw."

Or, perhaps, a few bad throws.

In his younger days, five catches through two games would have pushed Moulds to the brink of a meltdown. Now, at 32, he's willing to remain patient while Losman gets his feet under him. Moulds understood the situation during the offseason, when he accepted a pay cut to give the Bills room under the salary cap.

How long his patience will last is anybody's guess. Moulds has never been the silent type, particularly when the offense is struggling, and he's not getting the ball. He's off to his slowest start since 2001. He's already said Losman needs to pay better attention to detail, a mild complaint but one nonetheless.

"Five years ago, I would have jumped the gun," Moulds said. "I don't know how much longer I can be quiet, but I know J.P. is young. I have to be patient and see what happens. Hopefully, he'll get it, the light will go on, and we'll hit the ground running."

Critics wonder if Moulds' skills have eroded. He's gone 15 games without recording 100 yards receiving and has just two touchdowns over the same span. He hasn't had a 100-yard game on the road in two years. He hasn't had a catch of 50 yards or more since 2002. He hasn't had more than 10 catches in the same game since 2000.

And then there's this number: 0. That's how many playoff games he's won in his career. The Bills haven't won a postseason game since 1995, the year before he arrived.

"He's in his 10th year in the league, so he's a little bit older, but the guy can make it happen," Falcons coach Jim Mora said. "He can be a dominant player. I know our guys have tremendous respect for him. I can tell you that we had a guy running around (in practice) with No. 80 on, and everybody knew where he was."

On Sunday, Moulds will be working against cornerbacks Jason Webster and former first-round pick DeAngelo Hall. Former Bill Keion Carpenter is playing strong safety in the Falcons' defense, which was 26th against the pass through the first two games.

The game might offer evidence of whether Moulds is in decline or a victim of shaky quarterbacking and instability. For every 1,000-yard season, he followed with one in which he gained at least 400 yards less from the previous year. He had 1,043 yards last season.

Moulds has at least one catch for a team-record 112 straight games, the fourth-longest active streak in the NFL behind Harrison, Keyshawn Johnson and Terrell Owens. All were selected in the 1996 draft. Harrison is headed for the Hall of Fame. Johnson won a Super Bowl. T.O. was in the Super Bowl last season.

Moulds waits.

"You have to get on the same page with the quarterback," Moulds said. "You look at the guys I came in with. Every one has a veteran quarterback from Donovan McNabb to Peyton Manning to (other) guys that have solid quarterbacks. . . . I don't think I'm in decline. I can still run past guys."

e-mail: bgleason@buffnews.com

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