NFL: QB Losman is Carroll’s latest project in Seattle
By GREGG BELL
AP Sports Writer
RENTON, Wash. — J.P. Losman has earned a championship ring since the one-time starting quarterback for the Bills left Buffalo.
Yeah, OK, it was with the Las Vegas Locomotives in the United Football League.
"We didn't know if it'd be like high-school graduation rings, or what," the former first-round draft pick joked Monday following practice with his new Seattle Seahawks teammates.
The 29-year-old Losman wasn't joking when he described the "nice-sized" bonuses he and his fellow Locos received last year from team owner Bill Hambrecht for winning the inaugural UFL championship.
Losman's enjoying another bonus right now. He's entered coach Pete Carroll's new home for NFL second chances in Seattle.
"I would have been very surprised if I didn't get another opportunity (yet) I am very fortunate for this opportunity. I'm very, very excited," Losman said. "This is going to be a great organization to play for. The coaching staff is young. They are excited. Everything's new ... fresh. Lot of enthusiasm. And they are letting you compete."
Carroll and the Seahawks have been taking in players in the name of increased competition — and improvement on a 9-23 record the last two seasons.
The coach has already warned Charlie Whitehurst, the backup who is pushing three-time Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck, that Losman is already pushing Whitehurst.
Seahawks players are already marveling over Losman's throws.
"He's got a lot to learn, but he has a terrific arm — a major-league arm," Carroll said. "He's really hungry. He wants to jump right into this thing."
Losman, who signed with the Seahawks last week, last started an NFL game on Dec. 14, 2008. He replaced injured Trent Edwards, threw for 148 yards with three interceptions and lost the game-deciding fumble in a loss at the New York Jets. That was the last of the 23 defeats he had in 33 starts for Buffalo.
Losman had been benched soon after the Bills drafted Edwards in 2007. He then asked for a trade that never came.
Now he's joined the forgotten and troubled players who are part of Carroll's plan to import competition from everywhere.
—Running back LenDale White was Carroll's former star runner at Southern California who ballooned to more than 265 pounds with Tennessee, then lost weight yet lost his job to Titans record-breaker Chris Johnson. He's 220 pounds now after a draft-day trade, and he has a chance to be Carroll's lead runner again with Seattle.
—Wide receivers Mike Williams and Reggie Williams are failed former top-10 draft picks who got jobs off free-agent tryouts this spring.
—Running back Leon Washington was an All-Pro in 2008 for the Jets. He has a rod in his leg while trying to come back from a compound fracture that may have him out into training camp.
—Guard Ben Hamilton lost his job last season in Denver under new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels and became a free agent without a home. Now he's a starter again, and a key to Carroll's offensive line. He is most familiar with new line coach Alex Gibbs and is already a mentor next to No. 1 draft pick Russell Okung.
Losman is the latest project. The former star at Tulane and 22nd overall pick by the Bills in 2004 threw one pass late last season for Oakland. That was after the detour through Las Vegas.
Losman chose to go to the UFL last year because it meant regular playing time instead of more time on an NFL bench.
Losman called playing with the Locomotives in relative obscurity, in a college stadium in front of small crowds, a chance "to take a step back to take a step forward."
How far away did he feel from the NFL?
"You feel far away," he said with a laugh, "that it's time to get back in the 'big show."'
Yet he wasn't as far away as he could have been. The Locos' coach was former New York Giants head man Jim Fassel.
"Oh, Fassel was huge for me," Losman said. "I learned a lot from him. I went there to play, to be back in the saddle. Those last few years at Buffalo were up and down, thrown in there a little bit, thrown out a little bit. So I just wanted to get back in that starting role. I was able to accomplish that, and have some success.
"It was a great experience. Just getting back in there and proving to yourself that you still can do this, that this is where your passion still lies."