MINNEAPOLIS MN - DECEMBER 05: C.J. Spiller #21 of the Buffalo Bills rushes against the Minnesota Vikings at the Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on December 5 2010 in Minneapolis Minnesota. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
When the Buffalo Bills ignored glaring need areas to select Clemson running back C.J. Spiller in the first half of the 2010 NFL Draft, GM Buddy Nix explained his decision as one of attempting to get the best impact player they could.
"Need is important, but it had to be a guy that we thought was the player that could come in here and start immediately," said Nix. "Not to say that some of those guys couldn’t, maybe they could, but we also think we have a chance to get that position filled later on in the draft. There’s only one Spiller."
The way Nix and head coach Chan Gailey spoke of Spiller, the Bills were getting the steal of the draft. Spiller's scintillating preseason play seemed to confirm that notion. But 11 games into his pro career (he missed two more with a hamstring injury), Spiller has scored just two touchdowns, touched the ball an average of seven times per game offensively, and has been out-rushed by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has 236 yards to Spiller's 232.
Asked Wednesday if it surprised him that Fred Jackson's role was much more prominent than Spiller's, Gailey lent a little insight into the rookie's situation.
"C.J. did some really good things in preseason," Gailey explained. "We all know the level of intensity goes up a notch when you hit the regular season. Then, all of a sudden things weren’t as clean for C.J. and he wasn’t able to adjust as quickly as we had thought. So, Fred had played and been there and became the guy that we have used the most."
Despite his minimal impact and lack of adjustment, Gailey remains blindingly optimistic about Spiller's future.
"C.J. is going to be a really good player before it’s over with," Gailey said. "He’s just got to continue to learn and have some patience with his running."