Two seasons ago
The ankle injury compromised Spiller’s greatest assets as a running back. Now fully healthy again, can Buffalo’s dynamic ball carrier recapture his Pro Bowl form?
“That’s what I’m capable of doing,” said Spiller after one of his stronger spring practice sessions. “When I’m fully healthy I consider myself one of the best in the league, but when you’re not healthy it kind of hinders your game a lot. It hinders our game plan.”
Buffalo’s offensive game plan, particularly on the ground, was curtailed by Spiller and
Being healthy sounds like a simple plan, but staying healthy is very difficult at a punishing position like running back where you’re hit almost every time you touch the ball.
“The biggest thing for me is to be healthy – for all of our running backs to be healthy so we can expand our game plan. I just have to keep doing what I need to do to stay healthy this whole season and try to go out there and make plays.”
After spending a year with Spiller as the team’s offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett sounds as though he intends to again diversify the ways in which Spiller is used on offense.
“C.J. is a great guy and he’s an electric player,” said Hackett. “Getting to know C.J. and seeing how he works that’s definitely going to help us as we move forward.”
What helps provide Hackett with the license to line Spiller up in a number of different places on offense is the depth the team now has at running back with Fred Jackson,
“This is probably the deepest it’s been since I’ve been here,” said Spiller of the running back contingent. “We’ve got a great group of guys. The thing about our group, we always want each other to get better. I’m excited about the guys we have here.”
With other capable backs to make use of in the offensive backfield, Spiller can be lined up in space more often where he can be at his most dangerous as not just a big play threat, but a scoring threat.
“When you have the depth at that position you can do that,” said Hackett. “When you’re healthy and you have depth at that position you have the ability to do a lot of different things with running backs especially with someone as dynamic as C.J.”
“If those guys go out and make plays then teams won’t be able to stack eight in the box,” said Spiller. “But until these guys go out and prove themselves week in and week out, only then will it loosen up the box. For the most part, teams are going to continue to stack that run front. We were the number two rushing team in the league, they’d be foolish not to stack it.”
That is until Watkins and Williams along with a burner like
Spiller is a principled man. He’s not as motivated by the big contract as many other players in the league. Like any other competitor however, he would like to be compensated fairly for his efforts on behalf of the team. A highly productive 2014 season would improve that compensation on a potential long term extension with the Bills.
The Bills former first-round pick has expressed a desire to remain in Buffalo long term. His efforts to regain his top flight form this offseason is only the latest example.
“C.J.’s done a great job coming back from that and working extra hard,” said Hackett. “Just his finish. Even when he takes a check down, how he bursts. Every single thing he’s doing is just with more and more intensity. He wants to get back to where he was. I think with him being healthy and him being more familiar with the system, what we’re asking him to do, he’s going to be more and more comfortable.”
“For us to be second in the league in rushing with a new system and us trying to get comfortable with what was going on – now we have that year up under us and you can see the difference,” said Spiller. “Everybody is confident in what we’re doing and hopefully that will bring better things.”
And there’s no doubt a healthy Spiller is a key piece to that equation.