2003 NFL Preview

Fast track to success

Bills' Reed not passing up chance to replace Price

Posted: Tuesday July 29, 2003 2:32 PM

PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) -- First, he's catching passes -- and better yet, compliments -- from Drew Bledsoe. Then, he's off for personal workouts at Eric Moulds' home in Louisiana.

This isn't fantasy camp for Josh Reed, 18 months removed from college. And yet, Reed will admit that being handed the opportunity to replace Peerless Price as the Buffalo Bills' No. 2 receiver is something he didn't anticipate so soon in his pro career.

"It's like a dream come true," Reed said, following a recent training camp practice. "Having a guy like that [Moulds] root you on, and having your coaches having the belief in you that you can do it, and getting a year under my belt, it's just a lot of confidence."

The Bills hope confidence translates into results, allowing Reed to develop into a receiver that can distract double-team coverage away from Moulds in a pass-happy offense coming off a prolific year.

In trading Price to Atlanta last March because they couldn't match his salary demands, the Bills were forced to relinquish a player whose 1,252 yards receiving accounted for almost a quarter of their production last season.

Reed, who was second-round draft pick, enjoyed a promising rookie season with 37 receptions for 514 yards and two touchdowns.

It was an encouraging start for a player that set several school and conference records during a three-year career at LSU, capped by earning the 2001 Biletnikoff award, given to college football's top receiver

While Reed doesn't possess Price's flat out speed, he has a gritty ability to make clutch catches in traffic. As a former running back, Reed has also proven to be difficult to bring down.

It might be unfair to ask Reed to pick up all of Price's slack, which is why the Bills bolstered their receiving corps with the free-agent additions of Bobby Shaw and James Jett.

But the Bills are expecting Reed to make a big contribution, which is evident in how Bledsoe and Moulds are referring to and treating their young teammate.

"We're expecting Josh to step up and play a huge role for us this year with Peerless gone," Bledsoe said. "I expect him to a great extent fill the void left by Peerless."

Moulds went one step further, inviting Reed to his home for workouts in the weeks leading up to training camp. Moulds is noted for his offseason conditioning regimen, but the workouts also proved to be pep-talk sessions for Reed.

"I told him, 'Don't just settle on being a starter. Be a guy that's going to make a difference in there,'" Moulds said.

Moulds has plenty at stake in Reed's development in providing the Bills a second threat. That was the case last year when Price's emergence forced opposing defenses his way, allowing Moulds to enjoy a career year with 100 receptions for 1,287 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Reed considered it the ultimate compliment to be able to work out with Moulds.

But he's focused on not letting all this attention get to his head, quick to deny that he's earned anything yet, and that includes a place in the Bills' starting lineup.

"The second spot is still up for grabs," Reed said. "I figure it's still open until the coaches, on the first day, make out the roster. And if my name's first, then I'll consider myself the starter."

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