He has been lined up out wide at times since the 2011 season began. The aim was to get C.J. Spiller opportunities with the ball in his hands in space where he can make defenders miss and get yards after the catch. With an injury-depleted receiving corps however, Spiller was given a full-time role at wideout. Coming out of the bye week the increased use of Spiller out wide will continue.
"He did a very good job," said head coach Chan Gailey of Spiller's first outing against the Giants in Week 6. "I can see that being his role here for the short term. Maybe not long term, but for the short term."
"We did some different stuff with C.J. against the Giants and being down another receiver and just getting him out there we tried to get him some more touches and get him involved," said Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Spiller pulled in a career-high five passes in Week 6 for 39 yards nearly doubling his reception total on the season. The numbers might seem somewhat pedestrian until one considers the fact that he made plays on two of Buffalo's four scoring drives in that game.
The second-year back posted three receptions for 18 yards in the first half, including one that helped lead to a Rian Lindell field goal to tie the game at 17 at the break. All of those first half catches came on first down.
Come the fourth quarter Spiller converted a 2nd-and-7 with a nine-yard catch and followed it up with another six-yard catch on the next play. The back-to-back plays set Buffalo up in favorable down and distance on a drive that tied the score midway through the fourth quarter at 24.
"I felt pretty good out there," said Spiller. "There were some new things to me, but they didn't overwhelm me with anything crazy. Things were really simple for me to get down pat in a short amount of time. I felt comfortable out there and my legs were up under me and I felt fresh. Felt natural."
"It's not easy for a running back to go out there and run receiver routes and line up in formations and do all the things that he did," said Fitzpatrick. "He did a good job for us."
Buffalo's offensive staff had Spiller practice with the receivers all week leading up to the game against the Giants to get him more comfortable with the routes and reads. During the bye week those reps with the wideouts continued knowing Donald Jones is still a couple of weeks away from returning from his high ankle sprain.
Spiller's plays in the passing game weren't game breaking, but that's because on most of his pass plays the defensive backs or linebackers covering him played off for fear of getting beat deep.
"I think guys are definitely going to give me that respect because of my speed," said Spiller. "Then there are going to be some guys that come up there and say, 'You've just got to beat me.' And I'm up for that challenge. I've always had faith in my speed. It's going to be real exciting to see how teams play me."
Gailey and the offensive staff have tried to find ways to get Spiller more opportunities, but it's proven difficult with Fred Jackson turning in MVP-like production the first six weeks of the season. But in need of speed on the outside Spiller proved to be the perfect candidate.
Spiller is just pleased to have a way to contribute to the team's offensive success no matter how short or long this unexpected role lasts.
"Anything that helps us win games or helps us on offense that's what I'll do," said Spiller. Coach Gailey is a great offensive coordinator. He dials up great packages to get guys in the right positions. Lucky for me this is another opportunity that came my way and I just have to take advantage of it."