ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (Oct. 5, 2005) -- Coach Mike Mularkey suddenly isn't saying who his starting quarterback is, leaving open speculation that backup Kelly Holcomb might replace J.P. Losman for Buffalo's Week 5 game against Miami.
Mularkey declined to discuss his starters, a major change after supporting Losman as recently as Oct. 3. It's an unusual strategy for a team that spent the majority of its time this offseason grooming the second-year player after awarding him the starting job in February. Losman replaced Drew Bledsoe.
"I'm not going to talk about a starter at any position for either team today," Mularkey said.
Mularkey said his decision to stay quiet might help keeping the Dolphins guessing.
The Bills (1-3) have lost three straight, and Losman has struggled in each game.
The second of Buffalo's two 2004 first-round draft picks was benched for the final quarter of Buffalo's 19-7 loss to New Orleans on Oct. 2. It was the second time he has been benched for at least one series in the last three games.
After the game, Mularkey said he made the move because he was looking for a spark. At the time, he maintained Losman was his starter.
"I'm going with J.P., and I think everybody understands that," Mularkey said.
Asked if he had taken a step back, Mularkey gave a terse response: "You can take it as a step back or you can take it as a step forward. I don't care how you take it."
The Bills didn't make Losman available to reporters as they have the previous four Wednesdays. Losman was scheduled to speak on a conference call with reporters in Miami, but he was replaced by safety Troy Vincent, a former Dolphin.
Holcomb dodged questions about who's starting.
"That's not my decision," he said. "Whatever they want to do, I'm ready to do it."
Losman is averaging 108 yards passing a game, has completed less than 48 percent of his attempts and has acknowledged he's still hesitant at times in the pocket.
Mularkey said Losman seems to be trying too hard.
"I think inexperience is probably the biggest culprit," Mularkey said. "I think he presses to play better than he has to right now. ... It's not a bad thing that he wants to be good for his team, but it's not good as a player or a coach to press too hard. In the end, it could be a negative."
Losman's best performance came in engineering five scoring drives (a touchdown and four field goals) on Buffalo's first five possessions in a season-opening win against Houston. The Bills have managed two touchdowns and five field goals in their last 14 quarters.
Holcomb is a nine-year NFL veteran, whom the Bills acquired last March as a free agent from Cleveland.
He's been shaky in two backup appearances with the Bills, going 5 of 9 for 27 yards and losing a fumble. He's had 13 starts in 26 career appearances.