It's a role no NFL quarterback wants to have, but J.P. Losman knows it's his job this year. The backup role is never easy as you're often thrust into a game cold, which was the case for Losman last Sunday.
"I just try to mentally prepare like I'm going in and it's tough," admitted Losman. "(Sunday) I was put to that test, quite early too, which is even more unexpected. That's my job right now and I'm going to have to prepare myself."
Losman tried to take the positives from his first relief appearance this season and believes it will better prepare him for any future duty later this season.
"This is a great stepping stone for me personally just to learn how it is to get in there early in the game and try to keep everything under control and still lead the guys down the field," said Losman.
Offensive coordinator Turk Schonert, who spent the majority of his NFL career as a backup can relate to the challenge of being asked to perform at the drop of a hat despite not getting the majority of the work in practice leading up to the game.
"I've been there. I've been in those shoes before," said Schonert. "That's his job, it was my job. He's ready, he's prepared, he studies hard."
Schonert made a point last week of getting Losman a few more snaps during the course of the practice week in an effort to keep him sharp, but those reps are always limited because it's most important to have the starting signal caller ready for Sunday's action.
"I know you've got to get your backup some practice reps," said Schonert. "You can't take it for granted without many snaps. I know because I've been in that position. Eventually he's going to have to play. I just told him we were going to get him snaps."
Still even a handful of reps can only go so far in duplicating game action. Before last Sunday Losman had not played in a regular season game since Buffalo's Week 12 game at Jacksonville last season. Perhaps that more than anything else makes the most difference.
"I don't care how many years you've played in this league, the first time you play in a while, the game is 100 miles per hour and you're going to miss some things," said Schonert. "And he missed some things, but he also made some nice plays."
"It's not really lack of practice time, its more lack of game-time playing," said Losman. "I haven't played in awhile, so it took me awhile to calm down after the big play to Lee (Evans) and I settled down a little bit. Still, I felt the whole day I was rushing a little bit, maybe rushing through my reads, maybe there were a couple times there I could have had Josh (Reed) underneath quicker, I had Robert (Royal) one time quicker underneath. But maybe I was just rushing a little bit because I haven't been under fire like that in awhile."
Losman's first half was better than the second primarily because the game was still relatively close. Believe it or not Losman had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 at the half going 3-3 passing for 107 yards and a touchdown. By game's end his rating was still a very solid 101.3 as he completed over 71 percent of his passes, but the turnovers and five sacks were what hurt the team's chances the most.
"I thought he performed pretty well and handled himself well and threw some very good balls in that football game," said head coach Dick Jauron. "It's hard and if you're not on the field playing, if you're not in the action, it's very different. It moves so fast on game day, there's so much traffic in your face, they come from a lot of different directions, it's not an easy thing to do for anybody, at any time, to just step in there and perform."
Losman was to get more snaps during this bye week, but those snaps will be increased even more as Trent Edwards recovers from the concussion he suffered Sunday.
"I was going to get some reps, just because it was the bye week and he's been taking most of it, give him a little rest, so I was already preparing myself for a little extra reps this week," said Losman. "As far as the next week after that, who knows? It's too early to tell, I haven't heard anything."
More reps or not Losman believes being thrown into last Sunday's game is what will help him most moving forward in the event he's called upon again during the 2008 campaign.
"I'm glad it happened early on in the season," said Losman. "And as we go on, I'll be more prepared for the situation."