Lee Evans has been the one constant on the Bills' offense since 2004, playing in every game of his seven-year career, starting all but seven of them.
It would be difficult to blame Evans for any frustration he might have with the ever-changing landscape of the Bills' offense, having caught touchdowns from seven different passers in his career, but Evans said he has confidence in the team's most recent quarterback change, with Ryan Fitzpatrick taking over for Trent Edwards Sunday at New England.
"With Fitz or Trent, you know both of those quarterbacks are going to compete hard and do all they can to win," Evans said. "Fitz just has that different demeanor about him than Trent does. I think we have a very good rapport. We know who each other are and it's just about making plays and having the opportunity to make plays."
Evans – who caught four of his seven touchdowns and 341 of his 612 yards from Fitzpatrick last year – said Fitzpatrick is not afraid to take risks; fitting throws in to tight coverage and changing plays at the line, which he did last year on a franchise-record 98-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens in Jacksonville.
"He'll freelance a little bit more. He's not afraid to get in the huddle and trust what he's seeing or tell somebody to do something else," Evans said. "When he's in there he just kind of feels the game and if he wants to give you a shot, he'll do it. He'll throw a ball up and just want you to make a play for him."
Evans, a Wisconsin alum, was shut out in receptions for only the second time in his career last week at Green Bay in his return to the Badger State. Fitzpatrick said that needs to change.
"Lee's a big part of our team, and if you watch the film, it's been great … for him to be as unselfish as he is," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm not going to force the ball to him, but when we get a chance to throw him the ball, we want to throw him the ball."
Both players said they were surprised a quarterback change came after just two games.
"We know what we have offensively and we're trying to get there; coaches are doing whatever they can to help us get there," Evans said. They felt this move was the key to doing that, so I guess better early than late. We still have a chance to do a lot of good things."
Fitzpatrick said he's trying to move on and focus on winning.
"I've got to shift gears now and start thinking about how I'm going to perform," he said. "Whatever that takes – if we have to run the ball on every snap, if we have to throw it deep – that's what we're going to do."
The Bills' receiving corps faces a young New England cornerback tandem in second-year man Darius Butler and rookie Devin McCourty this weekend, but Evans said the Patriots' defense can't be taken lightly.
"This is a completely different team than years back where they could just play Cover 2 and their front seven would run everything," Evans said. "They still have a very, very talented defense, but they do different things now. They do a good job of mixing things up, mixing coverages up, and we'll still see something we haven't seen before."
Evans has never beaten New England in his career, as the Bills haven't defeated the Patriots since opening day 2003, but he said the team has greater concerns than history as it tries to get back on track.
"I don't think we're really, really far away; we just haven't got there yet," he said. "If we expect to do anything, this is definitely a big week for us. I don't think (we're) really concerned about everything that has happened in the past more so (than) what we need to do to win this one."