PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) - It's a half hour after practice, and J.P. Losman is still busy signing autographs along the fence surrounding the Buffalo Bills
training camp field.
"Hey, J.P., you were great on Sunday," someone yells out to the rookie quarterback. "That's our next Jim Kelly," another person is overheard saying,
referring to the Bills Hall-of-Famer.
Smiling, Losman continues working down the long line of outstretched hands. It's only when someone notes that he's wearing No. 7, the same number Doug
Flutie once wore in Buffalo, that Losman stops and comments.
"We're not trying to bring that up today," Losman said. "Hopefully, that'll slowly die down."
It's apparent the first-round pick wants to make one thing clear: He's here as the Bills quarterback of the future, not to relive the past.
"Sometimes it gets annoying because it's kind of like you want to build your own identity," Losman said, afterward. "But it's understandable right now
because I haven't played a snap. ... So they don't have anything to put with my name or number yet."
Pausing, Losman added: "Slowly but surely that will change."
If the Bills raised expectations by trading three draft picks - including a first-rounder next year - in a deal with Dallas to select Losman 22nd
overall in April, the former Tulane star is not backing away. That's not a surprise coming from someone who confidently - some thought overconfidently
- stated prior to the draft that he considered himself the best quarterback prospect in a group headed by Eli Manning, the eventual No. 1 pick. Losman
is eager to prove himself, whether his chance comes this season or more likely next as the Bills groom him to eventually replace Drew Bledsoe.
"It's hard to say, 'You know it will happen,"' Losman said. "I think it's arrogance for someone to come here and say that. I haven't even played an
NFL game yet so I don't know how it's going to go. But do I think so? Yeah, I really think so."
In his NFL preseason debut Sunday against Denver, he played a little more than a quarter in helping Buffalo to a 16-6 win. In three series, Losman
orchestrated two scoring drives, both of them ending with field goals. Losman finished 5-of-5 for 55 yards, and added three carries for 37 yards. He
also bounced back quickly from his first play, a quarterback draw up the middle that ended with Losman being flattened by Broncos linebacker D.J.
"It actually felt good," said Losman, who will look to continue his strong play on Saturday when the Bills host Tennessee. "It was good to be back on
the field and start playing again. It was kind of like a wake-up call."
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 217 pounds, Losman has a carefree approach that might reflect his Venice, Ca., roots. After spending his first college semester
at UCLA, he transferred to Tulane. A two-year starter, Losman finished in the top-10 in 18 Tulane passing categories, and set a school record for
lowest interception percentage - one for every 36 attempts.
The Bills believed enough in Losman to make him the first quarterback the team has selected in the first round since taking Kelly 14th overall in
1983. Bills quarterback coach Sam Wyche has nurtured the careers of both Joe Montana and Boomer Esiason. And Wyche sees in Losman a potential
combination of Kelly and Steve Young.
Losman was taken aback by the comparison.
"Did he say that?" Losman said. "It's good to hear those types of things. So now, I've just got to somehow make his words right.