Bills' Spiller will get assorted touches of the football
Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- With C.J. Spiller healthy, it’ll be interesting to see how much better he’ll be this season. He’s going to be running the ball, catching the ball and even the Bills top kick returner.
In 2012 he had over 12 hundred yards and averaged a gaudy six yards per carry. In 2011, it was only 561 yards, but stayed at 5.2 yards per attempt.
Last season his ankle hampered him and Spiller was at 4.6 yards per carry.
There are four capable backs on this roster in Spiller, Fred Jackson, Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown. Many feel that the only way for Buffalo’s offense to be successful is for Spiller to be like he was in ’12. Doug Marrone said, “I think, for us to succeed, I would say that we need everyone. The reason why I want to answer the question this way is because, god forbid if something does happen, I don't want you to come back and say, 'Hey, in week one you said that if C.J. was hurt then you're offense would not succeed.' That's not fair to the rest of the players that can do well. But, do we need C.J. Spiller to stay healthy and does that make us more explosive, absolutely. No doubt about it.”
Many feel Spiller needs to carry to ball 20 times per game. Marrone says it would be better if he had 20 touches in all aspects of the game, “I think with the right touches, yes and where they come from absolutely. I think receiving and every which way you can that makes him an explosive playmaker.”
Spiller had trouble when he first came into the NFL because he tried to bounce every play to the outside. Some of that has crept back into his game, but Marrone said, “I think one of the things when you're an explosive player, it is learning to a certain extent for anyone when you come into this league. The holes in college for some players are so much wider than when you get to this league and when you do see a hole in this league, it closes so quickly. One of the things is that you see a lot of flashes and someone with speed and making big plays like C.J. does, you jump sometimes when you see that hole open up and then you sit and say, 'Oh, what is he doing, what is he doing?' But, I think, as you get experience in this league, every single back gets better and better at knowing when to take it up in there and when to take it out based on the situation or how the defense is playing. I think everyone learns to an extent as they keep playing.”
Spiller had one kick return in the preseason and apparently Marrone feels the Bills lack of success on kickoff returns last year was more player related than coaching related. Marquise Goodwin didn’t have a good rookie season on returns and Marrone said Spiller may be involved in special team this season, “Yes, absolutely.” That would match the Bills depth chart which has Spiller their top kick returner. Spiller sounded OK with it when asked, "Haven't done it in a while, but did it in the preseason and it felt good to get back out there. It ain't nothin' new to me, it's second nature to me. The biggest thing is to have ball security."
Spiller has been hurt quite a bit in his career but does it makes sense to put maybe your best offensive player at risk? “What’s the risk?” asked Marrone. “I look at it as how many guys have been injured returning the football compared to how many guys have been injured with the ball being handed off to them. I don't look at it as a risk as maybe some people would, but I can understand how maybe some people could see that because of the distance and the way some people are running down the field, I understand that. Again, I don't look at it that way. As much as we can get our playmakers out there whether it be punt returns or kick returns, whichever way we have to do.”
Spiller didn't hesitate at all when asked about more abuse to his body, "I do a great job of taking care of my body, getting into the cold tub, getting massages, so I'm not really worried about wear and tear, I'm young, so it'll be a long while until I start having wear and tear."
In the first two years of his career with the Bills Spiller brought back 50 kicks for an average of 23.1 yards per return. He has 25 punt returns for a 12.1 yard average. His lone touchdown came in 2010 and was a 95 yard kickoff return.
It's not known if Spiller will return kicks the whole season. Marrone said it's not because Goodwin did a poor job, "I wouldn't say it's not been fulfilled, he's had a lot of bumps and bruises and we have three guys that are pretty good and could probably start anywhere with Sammy in the mix, so if we can take a lick off, we'll take a lick off until Marquise gets better then we'll make decisions, but right now, C.J. is the best guy we've got back there."
One thing both Marrone and Spiller agree on is returning kicks will not decrease the runningback's workload. Spiller said, "No not at all, the good thing is we have good communication between the runningbacks. Fred will go in there if I need a blow or I'll just start the series. The good thing is he's always watching making sure that I'm good and that's what it takes, another set of eyes." Spiller added, "I do a great job of judging when I need to start on the offensive series or when I need to come out, so I think we'll be fine, I have no worries at all."