Edwards poised to be quiet leader in Buffalo

What are the signs to suggest that an NFL quarterback is ready to take the next step in his development and become a winner? After talking to the Bills’ Trent Edwards, I see proactive leadership as a sure sign that the Buffalo quarterback is ready to lead a talented offense and put up more points — and possibly more wins.

The first step came with a single text message sent to team GM Russ Brandon, urging him to pursue WR Terrell Owens after his release by the Dallas Cowboys. That’s right, it was Edwards who helped initiate the Bills’ interest in T.O. by asking his GM to go out and get the one weapon that could change the entire Bills offense.

Edwards, who grew up in the Bay Area in Northern California, watched T.O. blossom into bona-fide NFL star with the 49ers. Edwards admitted that he was in the stands during the 1998 playoff game when T.O. caught the winning touchdown pass from Steve Young to beat the Green Bay Packers.

Now a teammate of the controversial Owens, Edwards sees the glass as half full. The third-year quarterback believes Owens will strip away the double coverage that has kept fellow WR Lee Evans from having a Pro Bowl season of his own. Proven playmakers like Roscoe Parrish and Josh Reed should now be more productive working primarily against single coverage.

Owens should help an already-stellar Bills running game. His talent and reputation will draw safeties rolling their coverage over the top, leaving less eight-man fronts to defend the run. With one less safety close to the line of scrimmage to help defend the run, super tandem Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson will feast on defenses with seven players in the box.

That’s the impact of T.O.

T.O is expected to be the straw that stirs the drink in Buffalo, but Edwards will have to be a quiet leader in the presence of a strong personality. After finishing 23rd in the league in scoring at 21 points per game, Edwards could use T.O’s talent to turn the Bills offense into a scoring machine and crown himself as the best QB taken in the 2007 draft, which also featured JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn.

— Solomon Wilcots

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