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OWINGS MILLS — It only takes a cursory glance at Buffalo Bills game film to reach this understanding: J.P. Losman is one of the most beleaguered quarterbacks in the league, if not one of the toughest.
Heading into Sundayâ€™s game against the Baltimore Ravens (12-3) at M&T Bank Stadium, Losman has put together a respectable season for Buffalo (7-8) despite being sacked 44 times. Now, Losman has to contend with the top-ranked defense in the league that ranks second in the NFL with 57 sacks behind the San Diego Chargersâ€™ total of 60.
â€œThe Ravens try to confuse you with the movement, especially on third down,â€ Losman said in a conference call with Baltimore reporters. â€œItâ€™s going to obviously be important that we identify what we want to do, if we want our line to block, if we want our backs to block and things like that. Thatâ€™s the goal. Weâ€™ll see if we can get it done.â€
The Ravens have a legitimate shot at becoming the first team in NFL history to have four players finish with 10 sacks or higher as they’re led by defensive end Trevor Pryce (12), outside linebacker Adalius Thomas (11), linebacker Bart Scott (9 Â½) and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (8 Â½).
Over the past five games, the Ravens have registered 27 sacks to their opponentsâ€™ one.
Meanwhile, Losman has completed 62.9 percent of his throws (248 for 394) for 2,814 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for an 86.8 passer rating. Losman lacks ideal size at a generously-listed 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, but is mobile and durable.
â€œJ.P. reminds me of Kyle Boller a little bit,â€ Pryce said. â€œJ.P. has a big arm. I played against him last year and one thing that impressed me the most is that heâ€™ll stand right there and take the hit.
â€œHeâ€™s not that big of a guy, but heâ€™s a tough one. Little ones are always tough. You know, you get picked on in your life or whatever.â€
The Ravens are anticipating Buffalo employing maximum protection schemes to try to counteract their upfield rush and interior penetration.
â€œThatâ€™s been the story the past couple of weeks against us, so you can expect that,â€ Suggs said. â€œYou can expect anything when it comes to the Ravens."
Losmanâ€™s primary downfield threat is former Wisconsin standout Lee Evans, who has caught a team-high 75 passes for 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns with a 15.3 average per reception. Plus, the former Tulane and UCLA quarterback has rushed for 130 yards and one touchdown.
While Losman has progressed this season, the Billsâ€™ suspect offensive line hasnâ€™t been able to protect him consistently enough for him to make major strides.
â€œWe are concerned,â€ Bills coach Dick Jauron said. â€œYou donâ€™t want to be a team that gives up a lot of sacks. There are reasons for all the sacks.
â€œSome of them go to the offensive line, not all of them. Some of them go to the quarterback, not all of them. Hopefully as we improve as a team, the numbers will fall and as J.P. grows in experience.â€
TRAINING ROOM: Besides left tackle Jonathan Ogden (toe, doubtful), linebacker Thomas (ankle, questionable) was the only other player not present during the portion of practice open to reporters.
â€œDonâ€™t waste your breath,â€ Thomas said when asked about his ankle.
Heâ€™s still expected to start. Scott and offensive guard Jason Brown are questionable with ankle injuries. Tight end Daniel Wilcox (back) is probable.
Quarterback Steve McNair still isnâ€™t listed on the injury report after injuring his hand against the Cleveland Browns, but didnâ€™t take part in warm-up drills with Boller throwing to receivers and running plays.
Conversely, the Bills are much healthier with one injured player: fullback Daimon Shelton (head, questionable).
NOT ‘INVOLVEDâ€™: Wide receiver Derrick Mason hasnâ€™t produced the numbers expected when he was reunited with McNair, his former Tennessee Titans teammate. He has caught 63 passes for 720 yards and two touchdowns.
He was limited to two catches for 10 yards against the Steelers, throwing the ball high into the air in frustration after one reception. His last touchdown came four games ago in a 13-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
â€œAnyone thatâ€™s been in the league for a long time would want to be more involved in the offense, but youâ€™re not, so what youâ€™ve got to do is keep moving on,â€ Mason said. â€œHopefully, one day you will feel appreciated whether thatâ€™s with the current team youâ€™re at or someplace else.â€
QUICK HITS: With 65 receptions and 913 yards, wide receiver Mark Clayton is within 87 yards of his first 1,000-yard receiving season. â€œI really only want to win the game,â€ he said. â€œIf that happens, cool. If it doesnâ€™t, cool. I really donâ€™t care.â€ â€¦ The last time the Ravens played Buffalo, they won 20-6 in Baltimore as Deion Sanders intercepted Drew Bledsoe twice and high-stepped 48 yards for a touchdown on Oct. 24, 2004.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland