One for the aged

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

Look on the bright side J.P., you could have lost your job to a guy almost old enough to be your father.

The apparent demotion of Buffalo Bills quarterback J.P. Losman this week is one of three scenarios to play out in which NFL teams are handing the ball to new starters.

None of the moves are because of injury in last week's play either, which adds to the intrigue in their respective markets.

Losman, who has been yanked in two of the Bills' three losses already, gives way to veteran journeyman Kelly Holcomb.

In San Francisco, struggling Tim Rattay will be replaced by this year's first overall draft pick, Alex Smith.

And in New York, another No. 1 choice -- albeit from 18 years ago -- 41-year-old Vinny Testaverde, gets the call for the Jets.

Two weeks ago, Testaverde, who replaces Brooks Bollinger, was watching NFL games on his couch on Long Island. But the Jets, who had seen starter Chad Pennington and backup Jay Fiedler injured in the same game, were desperate for a quarterback with at least a little seasoning.

"It's a little mind-boggling," the former Jet and Dallas Cowboy said. "I wasn't going to play at all. My career was over and I was going to retire. Here I am ready to take a snap (tomorrow.)"

Jets coach Herm Edwards clearly has little faith in Bollinger, considering that in his past 26 games with the Jets and Cowboys, Testaverde has a record of 8-18.

But the Jets seem to be adopting the same approach as the Bills. With veteran teams thought to be playoff contenders when the season began, there was no time to be patient, yet it's early enough in the season to make a turnaround.

While acknowledging they still intend for 24-year-old Losman to evolve into the starter's job, the Bills made the move with two key divisional games on the horizon - tomorrow against the Dolphins and next week against the Jets.

By most accounts in Buffalo, even though coaches refuse to confirm it, the move to Holcomb got the thumbs-up from veterans frustrated at a 1-3 start.

In San Francisco, meanwhile, it is less a question of "why" and more "why not?"

Rattay was going nowhere as the interim starter holding Smith's spot. So rather than struggle with an interim QB, coach Mike Nolan feels it's time to put the team's investment to work.

"I feel that Alex gives us the best chance to win, and I believe he's ready," Nolan said. "I did commit to Tim early ... but we are 1-3."

Smith will have it anything but easy. Tomorrow he faces an attacking Indianapolis Colts defence that has improved to become the No. 2 unit in the NFL. The next two weeks he'll learn on the job against the similarly tough defences of the Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Bucs.

WINGING IT

Coach Nick Saban and the rest of the Miami Dolphins -- make that the AFC East leading Dolphins -- won't get too excited about their turnaround until the team wins a road game.

The Fish have lost eight of their past nine away from South Florida, after all, including a 17-7 loss to the New York Jets in Week 2.

Next up is tomorrow's meeting with the Bills, where defensive end Jason Taylor expects a more focused effort from the Dolphins younger players than they had in the Big Apple.

"We're out of the city so we won't see the bright lights, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty," said Taylor, a nine-year veteran. "There isn't a whole hell of a lot in Buffalo besides some wings."


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