Bills training camp: Veteran receiver comes full circle

Bryan Sullivan

After six years, Josh Reed’s NFL career has come full circle.

The Buffalo Bills wide receiver entered the league just trying to learn the tricks of his trade from players such as Eric Moulds and Peerless Price. Now, Reed is passing on his own wisdom to a younger generation of wide receivers.

“It’s easy to step in on the team with someone like Josh,” said Steve Johnson, a rookie out of Kentucky. “He’s one of the guys that will always be cheering you. He helps out everybody on the team.”

The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Reed opened training camp as the Bills’ No. 2 wide receiver but is expected to be pushed by rookie second-round draft pick James Hardy for the other starting spot.

However, he enters this season confident after one of his best years as a pro. He was second on the team with 51 receptions for 578 yards last season.

One thing Reed didn’t do, though, was score a touchdown. He is hoping to get back to the end zone and lead the Bills to the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 season.

“Josh is a very smart and very tough guy,” said Tyke Tolbert, Buffalo wide receivers coach. “Everybody wishes they would have the bigger, taller guy, but I wouldn’t have anybody else for his position.”

Reed, like many other veterans on offense, has faced his share of difficulty dealing with what seems to be a revolving door of coaches.

Since he came to Western New York, the Bills have had three head coaches. First-year offensive coordinator Turk Schonert is the fourth coordinator since Reed’s rookie season. But Reed had a strong offseason of working with Schonert and with second-year quarterback Trent Edwards.

“I think it is going to be wide open,” Reed said about this year’s offense. “We had (Schonert) in here last year, and we expressed some things with him that we liked and didn’t like. We are glad to have him calling the plays. It is practice, but we have that confidence that we will run some fun stuff.”

Reed may face a challenge for his starting spot, but he has plenty of experience dealing with adversity.

After catching 37 passes his rookie season, he still received criticism for dropping passes.

“My rookie year, I was a little wet behind the ears,” Reed said. “I was behind (Moulds and Price), and I just tried to make the most out of the situation and tried to have fun.”

When Moulds was injured in 2003, Reed stepped up and recorded 58 receptions for 588 yards and two touchdowns, but the next three years proved to be a struggle, as he never registered more than 34 catches. Reed’s role in the offense diminished, going from one of the team’s top options to more of a third-down player.

Reed burst onto the collegiate scene at LSU to have one of the best careers for a receiver in the history of the SEC. He won the Biletnikoff Award in 2001, which is given to the nation’s top receiver, and finished with 167 catches for 3,001 yards and 17 touchdowns in 30 games with the Tigers. He became the first player in conference history to go over 3,000 yards in a career.

Going to play for LSU was always a goal for Reed, who grew up in Rayne, La.

“My number one memory would have to be winning,” Reed said. “I went out on a high note, with a great group of guys. We were like a big family. You see where the program has come to now, and I think it all started with us.”

He is hoping to leave the same imprint on the Bills’ fortunes.

Bryan Sullivan is covering Bills training camp for Messenger Post Newspapers. He can be reached at (585) 394-0770 ext. 273 or