Buffalo's head coach is reserving the right to make a final evaluation, but even Chan Gailey had to admit after Saturday night's performance by Trent Edwards in the Bills' 35-20 win over Cincinnati that the man who has been atop the depth chart since training camp began is likely to remain there when a final decision is made.
"He's earned the right to be in the position he's in right now," said Gailey. "We are still evaluating everybody. As they continue to play, they continue to get better, and if everybody continues to get better, it will probably end up like it is."
Edwards had his best preseason outing of the summer going 13-17 for 153 yards and a touchdown. He completed his first five passes on the team's second possession including the 12-yard scoring pass to Roscoe Parrish that tied the score at seven late in the first quarter.
"We were in a 2nd-and-20 and we were able to get a first down on that drive and scored our first touchdown of the game on that drive," said Edwards. "I feel like we're finding our rhythm. I think Chan talked about that a lot. We're starting to get in sync. We're starting to be a little more accurate with some throws. We're starting to hit some holes a little bit harder. It's just the little things that it's going to come down to. I thought we did a lot of little things correct."
On the three first-half touchdown drives by Buffalo's first team offense, Edwards was 11-13 for 144 yards and a touchdown.
"He made some very good decisions," said Gailey. "He got back to the third guy several times to make plays for us in crucial situations, which that was very encouraging for me. I thought the pass protection after the first series was pretty good. We were able to keep them out of there and give him time to get to that third guy. I was very happy about the progress our pass protection has taken."
After the game when asked if his confidence as quarterback of the Bills has ever been higher, Edwards wasn't ready to quantify it, as he remained mindful of the fact that he's still playing preseason games. But he did admit that playing under Chan Gailey has changed his outlook for the better with respect to the game and his own play.
"I feel like I'm just enjoying it more," he said. "I feel like I'm having fun out there. I really enjoy playing with these guys. I really enjoy playing for Chan. It's fun having C.J. Spiller in the backfield and it's fun throwing to Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish. It's fun winning football games. If that leads to more confidence then yes."
Those who were familiar with the Trent Edwards that struggled in 2009 under unusual circumstances with late minute offensive line changes and last minute offensive coordinator changes before last season see a stark difference in Edwards.
"I definitely see a different demeanor in Trent, he looks very comfortable and very poised back there," said former Bills wideout Terrell Owens, who watched Edwards from the Bengals sideline Saturday night. "He has a number of playmakers to make him even more comfortable. When you've got a back like C.J. Spiller, I mean he's going to make his job a lot easier especially when he can come out of the backfield like he's been doing and get into the secondary and it creates one on one matchups and Trent can assess the matchups and deliver the ball where it needs to be."
As the preseason has moved along so has Edwards' game. With each passing week, Edwards and the first team offense has seen more time, and the quarterback's numbers have improved. In three preseason games he's completed 65 percent of his passes and shown an ability to turn in some big plays like the 70-yard touchdown pass to Lee Evans against Indianapolis and the 28-yard pass to Parrish that set up the team's second touchdown Saturday night.
Edwards earned the right to sit atop the depth chart with a strong offseason, and based on his preseason performance it doesn't appear as though he'll be moved from that perch when the Bills enter Week 1.