After an eye-opening preseason in which he led the league in rushing touchdowns, the bar was set pretty high for C.J. Spiller as he made the start in his first NFL regular season game last Sunday. The results for Spiller and the rest of the offense obviously left something to be desired, but the Bills top pick has already learned from his first Sunday as a professional.
In his first regular season outing Spiller had six yards on seven carries and eight yards on four receptions against a Dolphins unit that was keying on the rookie and got consistent penetration up front. In Spiller's eyes however, there were a handful of plays where he could've made more out of some of the opportunities he was presented with in the game.
After reviewing the tape from the opener earlier this week, Spiller believes re-introducing one element to his game can change things for the better.
"I've just got to slow down and be more patient," he said. "That's the main thing. I let a couple runs get away from me. I was trying to play too fast. I've got to be able to slow stuff down and not miss those lanes that I kind of missed out there. But that's just getting adjusted and I've got a good understanding of what it will be like on Sundays."
Spiller felt there were some run plays where he did not let the blocking scheme unfold in front of him because he was so eager to get to the line of scrimmage as quickly as possible. Minimal gains, and in a couple of cases, a loss of yardage was the result.
"He was trying to so hard," said head coach Chan Gailey. "He went so fast that he was not letting things develop in front of him. He's got to realize that he's got that gear. [He's just got to] let it develop and then hit that gear. He'll get better as times goes on. We're going to try to make sure that he understands the way the game is played here."
Gailey has called Spiller a quick study from the time he arrived in Buffalo, so adjusting his game moving forward is not expected to be an issue.
Spiller has already taken it upon himself to study other successful speed rushers in the NFL to gain a better handle on the kind of running style that works best.
"I think of all fast guys the best guy that does it in this league is probably Chris Johnson," said Spiller. "He's a very patient guy and when he sees it he explodes through, so I'm going to try to do some of the same stuff. That just comes with time, but its great coming in to work and getting it corrected."
As the season moves into its second week Gailey is confident that his game breaking back will get it sooner rather than later.
"He's got worlds of ability," said Gailey. "We've just got to slow him down a little bit and get him patient in reading things and seeing things. I think he learned there's more patience involved."
With his debut performance not affecting his confidence level in the least, Spiller could be turning in some difference making plays as soon as this weekend.
"That performance (last Sunday) didn't hurt me," he said. "My confidence is still high. It was only one game. I can't let one game get me down. As a whole team I don't think we should let one game get us down. We made our corrections and now it's time to move on to Green Bay."