Bills camp: Edwards growing into the No. 1 QB role

Bryan Sullivan

Trent Edwards stood in the huddle Wednesday at Buffalo Bills training camp, looked around and knew all eyes were on him.

It’s a familiar situation for any quarterback, but for the second- year player out of Stanford, this one is much more unique.

Edwards began his second training camp at St. John Fisher under the watchful gazes of not just his teammates but also Bills fans, coaches and the organization.

That’s what happens when you are the starting quarterback.

A strong rookie campaign showed that Edwards has the potential to be a top tier QB.

The Bills were 5-4 in the games he started, and he threw seven touchdowns last season.

More is expected this year, and Edwards is set to deal with it. Unlike last year in the huddle, when Edwards faced the anxiety of a rookie, he now has the confidence of a veteran.

“I am more comfortable in there, you recognize things about people, you know their tendencies and you know who likes to hear the snap count when you are on your way to the line of scrimmage,” Edwards said. “You know what your right tackle’s favorite food is and you know what your receiver’s favorite vacation spot is. I know it doesn’t sound like those types of things help, but they do.”

Edwards burst on the scene in 2007. In his first career start, he led the Bills to a 17-14 victory over the Jets, completing 22 of 28 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown.

His first fourth-quarter comeback came against Washington on Dec. 2 when he led the Bills to a 17-16 victory. He broke a Bills rookie record with four touchdown passes in a 38-21 win over Miami the next week.

“(Other players) have been around my personality a little bit, they have been around the way I play the position and they are hopefully adapting to that and I am adapting to them in the same regard,” Edwards said.

Edwards’ work ethic in the offseason impressed plenty of those teammates. He also became more relaxed in coordinator Turk Schonert’s offense after taking more reps in the organized team activities. Edwards also worked out with receivers Lee Evans, Roscoe Parrish and Justin Jenkins last month in Fort Lauderdale.

“I have a very good comfort level with Trent,” said Evans, the Bills’ big-play threat.

“Obviously, he is a different type of quarterback but we have developed a rhythm. We have done some things in the offseason to try and help that rhythm and coming out here early on we had some incomplete passes, but we are getting in a good mode.”

Edwards will have to learn quickly, as the days of a team being patient with young quarterbacks are long gone. Having a backup such as the experienced JP Losman also can work against him.

Bills head coach Dick Jauron knows the expectations are high.

“I don’t know if you can have much patience with anybody anymore,” Jauron said. “It doesn’t make sense for you to lose patience with anyone who is not going to get better. We just try to help every player get better faster.”

Edwards is hoping to bring stability to a position that the Bills have been lacking since Hall of Famer Jim Kelly retired after the 1996 season. Buffalo has had a revolving door of starting quarterbacks that has included Rob Johnson, Doug Flutie and Drew Bledsoe among many others.

“You just play your game, you listen to your coaches and trust your instincts and react to plays,” Edwards said. “This is what has gotten you to this position so far and you’re not going to change your game and try to pattern it around someone else.”

Edwards is working with one of those former Bills quarterbacks, Alex Van Pelt, who is the team’s quarterbacks coach. Van Pelt started in 11 games in his career with Buffalo, and he and Schonert are hoping to open up a Bills offense that put up less than stellar numbers last season. Buffalo ranked 30th in passing offense and tied for 29th with 12 passing touchdowns.

“He’s much more comfortable within the offense,” Van Pelt said of Edwards. “Obviously, since it’s his second time, he feels better after having a training camp where he is not hearing things for the first time. I think he looks more comfortable.”

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