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Quarterback competition set to begin in Buffalo, Gailey says

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Don't expect Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey to choose a starting quarterback anytime soon.

Having evaluated the three quarterbacks on his roster, Gailey said Tuesday that he anticipates holding an open competition to determine who will win the job. And Gailey didn't rule out the team selecting a quarterback in the draft next month or the possibility of acquiring an established starter in a trade or in free agency.

"We're trying to leave no stone unturned," Gailey said during a brief availability with the media at the team's headquarters. "Unless something different happens between now and post-draft, to me it's an open competition for the job and we'll see what happens. ... We've got to see who can rise to the top."

Identifying a starter has been Gailey's top priority since he was hired as the Bills' coach in January. He takes over a team that's coming off a 6-10 season and missed the playoffs for a 10th consecutive year.

Buffalo particularly remains unsettled at the position after Trent Edwards lost his starting job to backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. The competition at this point will be between Edwards, Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm, an untested third-stringer who struggled in making his NFL debut in a 31-3 loss at Atlanta in Week 16.

Gailey was hired in part because of his offensive background and reputation for grooming quarterbacks during his 15-year NFL career.

Touching on several other topics Tuesday, Gailey dismissed speculation that safety Donte Whitner is on the trading block after the four-year pro responded to questions about his status on his Twitter account earlier this month.

"Where this came from I don't know, to be honest with you," said Gailey, who was made aware of the trade speculation by members of the Bills' media relations staff. "We feel like we've got a strong secondary. Donte's a big part of that and is going to be a big part of that. To me, you would not weaken one of your strengths."

Regarding the status of Aaron Schobel, Gailey said no timetable has been issued for the veteran defensive end to determine his future. Schobel, whose 78 sacks rank second on the Bills' career list, is still under contract, but he's contemplating whether to retire after nine NFL seasons.

"Obviously, we would like to have Aaron back, and we hope that works out," Gailey said. "But we understand his dilemma as well."

Gailey expressed concern about the Bills' lack of depth at receiver after they allowed Terrell Owens and Josh Reed to become free agents. Their departures leave Buffalo with Roscoe Parrish as the only proven player behind starter Lee Evans.

James Hardy missed most of his second NFL season last year recovering from a knee injury, and Steve Johnson has one start in 16 games over the past two seasons.

"It's not a lack of quality, I don't think. I think it's unproven at this point," said Gailey, who added that the team will consider drafting a receiver.

Gailey defended the Bills' cautious approach to free agency, during which the team has signed two players -- offensive tackle Cornell Green and linebacker Andra Davis.

"Because you're not making splashes doesn't mean we're not taking every person that's out there seriously and checking them out and finding if they fit our football team," Gailey said. "We're trying to be very smart and make good decisions about the type of people we bring in."

The Bills met with free-agent defensive lineman Dwan Edwards on Tuesday.

Edwards has played five NFL seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and is familiar with the 3-4 defense, which the Bills are introducing this year. After missing the entire 2008 season with a severe neck injury, Edwards bounced back in 2009 to register 47 tackles and one sack in 16 games, including nine starts.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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