C.J. Spiller gives Bills more than just a back

August, 20, 2010
8/20/10
12:01
AM ET
TORONTO -- The Buffalo Bills were supposed to draft a tackle or a quarterback with their ninth pick.

[+] EnlargeC.J. Spiller
AP Photo/Mike GrollC.J. Spiller scored on an impressive 31-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
They didn't. But they improved both positions with the player they did select: running back C.J. Spiller.

In Thursday night's 34-21 preseason victory over the Indianapolis Colts, he showed how.

Spiller darted 31 yards for a touchdown, making three defenders look foolish along the way, the second time he touched the ball.

Spiller began the run by breaking free from Colts defensive end Robert Mathis in the backfield, a move that showed he can erase a blown blocking assignment.

"Great backs do make your line better," Bills head coach Chan Gailey said. "I don't tell this to the offensive line, and you're going to write it, but I'll deny I said it. But that's what happens.

"You can get on the edge of a guy and he quickly breaks back to the backside and he's out the gate before they can get off the block. You just become a better offensive lineman when you have a back with great quickness out there.

"You saw tonight why we drafted C.J."

Bills general manager Buddy Nix joked at the draft that the Bills have been so bad the past decade the NFL should give them special considerations.

"In the draft, you can only take one [player] each pick," Nix said. "We're in a position where they should give us about three, but they won't do that."

The Bills hope they accomplished that with Spiller anyway.

Even if the Bills win only a handful of games, their fans should be riveted by Spiller's mere presence on the field.

With veterans Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch out with injuries, Spiller started. In a quarter and a half of action, he ran 10 times for 54 yards and had one reception for 1 yard. The Colts stopped him cold a few times. He had runs of minus-6, minus-2, zero and 1 yards.

Still, you could feel the wattage with every touch.

Bills quarterback Trent Edwards acknowledged Spiller's ability to break it on any play made the offense more enjoyable to operate.

"I think what [Thursday night's victory] means is we have a really good running back," Edwards said. "C.J. Spiller is a lot of fun to hand the ball to. He was making some good defensive players miss. He runs hard and is going to be a featured player in our offense. ... It was pretty impressive to watch him tonight."

Spiller certainly will get more involved in the passing game than he did Thursday night. Although he didn't return any kicks, that's another way he should give opponents trouble.

Spiller was asked if Thursday night's game will only add to the lofty expectations that come with being viewed as a franchise savior.

"I have high expectations," Spiller replied. "The team has high expectations. It's just one game, but we can't go backwards. We have to continue to get good."

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