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Bills' draft plans reflect confidence in Losman

The Bills held their annual pre-draft media session the other day. It was illuminating on a small scale, but General Manager Marv Levy didn't leak any top-secret information from his war room.

He did suggest that the team's first pick could be a linebacker, running back or maybe even a wide receiver, which narrows it down to about a dozen players. He also slam-dunked the obvious by revealing that no premium pick would be spent on a development quarterback.

J.P. Losman is the Bills' man under center. Levy didn't suggest that Losman is on the road to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, nor that he peers at his quarterback with his coaching eyes and sees a young Jim Kelly. After all, Losman turned 26 just last month and he has a mere 24 NFL starts in his resume.

What Levy did seem to suggest is that the Bills' offensive hierarchy is comfortable with Losman, that his progress is coming along well and that, despite some holes in a few other positions, Buffalo could make a run at the playoffs with him if he keeps on improving.

For Losman's teammates I think something that happened in the final game of the 2006 season, a loss to the Ravens in Baltimore, might have cemented the players' own comfort with their quarterback. The play in question was, of all things, an interception of J.P. It happened late in the final quarter, with the Bills attempting to get back into contention via their passing game.

Chris McAlister of the Ravens, one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, put an end to that idea with an interception deep in Baltimore territory. McAlister, noted for his speed, set off down the Baltimore sideline with a touchdown on his mind.

Setting off in pursuit, with blood in his eye, was Losman. His anger was aimed at himself for not getting a good look at McAlister, who had been lurking in his target area. In most of those situations the passer in pursuit of his interceptor turns out to be a hopeless case, but Losman kept gaining on the Ravens star and when he tackled him in front of the Baltimore bench it looked as if he was attempting to rip off McAlister's head.

The television camera caught McAlister's teammates slapping him on the back in congratulations for his big play. If you looked closely enough to the rear of the camera shot, it also showed Baltimore players helping Losman to his feet and slapping him on the back in admiration for a gutsy effort by the opposing quarterback.

There was no camera shot to record what was going on across the field at the Buffalo bench showing the reaction of the Bills. Maybe there was no physical reaction. But my guess is that it struck Losman's teammates that "here is our quarterback refusing to accept defeat -- that he gets furious with himself when he makes a bad play -- that he is committed to winning."

It was only one play, but the best Bills quarterbacks have had such plays that produced long-range results.

For Kelly it was on a final play of the 1989 opening game in Miami when he beat the clock and the Dolphins by diving across the goal line. For Jack Kemp it was a 72-yard touchdown pass to Charley Ferguson with 28 seconds to play in a 1963 game in War Memorial Stadium to beat the Patriots and start a push that turned a losing season into a winning season. For Joe Ferguson it was a 13-yard touchdown pass to Ahmad Rashad with 26 seconds left to beat the Raiders in a Monday night home opener in 1974. For Doug Flutie it was a 1998 scramble up the middle on third-and-long, then a whip of a lateral pass to Thurman Thomas for the yards that produced a first down by lightning-quick thinking.

For Losman it may have been one more piece of evidence for the Bills that they are well fortified at the most important position in football.

Larry Felser, former News columnist, appears in Sunday's editions.

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