In speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey revealed some expected news, and then followed it up with an unexpected twist that is sure to please the ears of fans.
Fred Jackson has been medically cleared to practice following a concussion sustained against the New England Patriots. Having missed just one game, he's fully expected to be back on the field for Sunday's critical road game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The divide in running back reps between Jackson and Spiller has been a touchy subject throughout most of the season - and particularly lately, with Spiller well on his way to not just a career year, but a breakout season that could garner him serious Pro Bowl consideration. While Jackson sat out last week's 19-14 win over the Miami Dolphins, Spiller logged a career-high 25 touches (22 runs and three receptions), tallying 130 total yards on those touches.
In the four games prior to Jackson's injury, when Gailey and the coaching staff were rotating the two running backs every two series, Jackson averaged just over 17 touches per game, while Spiller was at 14.5. Now that the two backs are fully healthy again - and now that Spiller has shown (albeit just once) that he can handle a significantly bigger workload - it appears that the Bills are set to move forward with Spiller being the more featured back. Jackson, of course, will still be prominently featured in the offense, as he's having another productive season and is a far preferable option when it comes to pass protection.
Time (and performance) will tell us whether or not this is a permanent move, or if the team is simply taking this approach for a week to ease Jackson back into the lineup following a serious injury. In either event, the immediate takeaway is the same: Buffalo's offense will still have more Spiller in it than it did during frustrating stretches of the season. If things go well for the third-year tailback, he may not let Jackson re-claim that (slightly) larger role.