ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — J.P. Losman is familiar enough with Buffalo Bills fans to not make any predictions regarding what reception he might get should the Miami Dolphins backup quarterback start against his former team on Sunday.
Whether he gets booed or cheered, Losman says he’ll “laugh it off.”
Losman heard both — and often in the same game — during a mercurial five-year career in Buffalo.
It began with great promise in 2004, when the Bills drafted the strong-armed Tulane product 22nd overall. And it ended five years later, after Losman lost the starting job for a second time to Trent Edwards.
On Sunday, he’ll make his first return to Buffalo, though it’s uncertain whether he’ll start in place of Matt Moore, who sustained a concussion and a neck injury last weekend in a 26-10 loss to Philadelphia.
Moore returned to practice Thursday for the first time.
Interim coach Todd Bowles said he’ll wait until game time to name his starter.
That leaves Losman anxiously waiting to see if he’ll get his first start nearly three years to the day of his last one. It was a forgettable outing, in which he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble that was returned for the decisive touchdown in a 31-27 loss to the Jets on Dec. 14, 2008.
“I’ve been envisioning this for a long time — ever since I left Buffalo — to get a chance to play your old team,” Losman said. “Beginning of the season, I was in school, throwing with my uncle at a local college. And here you are with a chance to start on a Sunday against your former team.”
He’s spent the past three years bouncing around the NFL and also spent the 2009 season with the UFL Las Vegas Locomotives. Losman signed with Miami in October after the team lost Chad Henne and Sage Rosenfels.
“Second chances are hard to come by in this league, and I’ve been waiting for it for quite some time,” Losman said. “If I do get this opportunity, it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be fun.”
Fun and exciting is not be the way Losman’s career in Buffalo was always measured.
His rookie season was wiped out after he broke his leg in training camp. A year later, he was awarded the starting job after the Bills released Drew Bledsoe. Losman proved unready and eventually split starts with journeyman Kelly Holcomb.
Losman’s best season came in 2006, when he had 3,051 yards passing, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in leading Buffalo to a 7-9 finish.
His inconsistencies returned in 2007, in which he split time with Edwards, a rookie third-round pick, before eventually losing the No. 1 job for good at the end of the season.
Not all of the blame belongs on Losman. His troubles were compounded by an unsettled organization. During his five seasons in Buffalo, the team went through four offensive coordinators, two coaches and three general managers.
“From that standpoint, it was something that for a young quarterback is tough to work through,” Losman said. “Of course there’s things I look back on physically that I wish I could’ve done better. But it was only going to take time. That’s all it was. It wasn’t a lack of smarts. It wasn’t a lack of effort. You know, it’s just the way it went.”
Veteran linebacker Chris Kelsay is one of only 15 players left who played with Losman in Buffalo. And he’s more concerned about ending the team’s six-game losing streak than facing a former teammate.
“That’s good for him. I mean, I don’t really think much of it,” Kelsay said. “I’m looking at what we can do and an opportunity to win a football game.”
Losman holds no grudges, while noting he was rooting for the Bills when they got off to a 5-2 start this season.
“Trust me, I was very happy for Buffalo and I was very happy for the city of Buffalo to be excited,” he said. Losman still owns a home in Buffalo and, last summer, married a woman who is from nearby Rochester.
“I still have a lot of love for Buffalo,” Losman said. “The fans were great to me. And I want nothing but the best for that city.”
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