Any good news involving Buffalo Bills starting running back Fred Jackson most likely is bad news for backup C.J. Spiller. The 2010 first-round draft pick has patiently waited his turn for two seasons while Jackson, 31, steadily puts up numbers ahead of him.
Barring injury, Jackson should be the starter for the immediate future after signing a two-year, $9 million extension. Jackson is coming off a spectacular 10 games in 2011 before suffering a season-ending leg injury. Buffalo is confident he will bounce back and gave Jackson the pay raise he was looking for.
What does this mean for Spiller? It means Spiller will stay in a reserve role longer than he expected. Spiller, 24, is signed through 2014. He’s a budding talent who wants a chance to start. But Spiller could find himself in a backup role in Buffalo for a majority of his rookie contract as long as Jackson continues to play at a high level.
I asked coach Chan Gailey about his running back quandary during the NFL owners meetings in March. Gailey admitted he needs to do a better job of dividing carries between two of his top offensive players.
“There is only one football, and you got several guys who can make plays," Gailey said. "Everybody is not going to be happy. That's part of it. So, you do the best you can to try to use C.J. and Fred in different ways to get them the ball, because they're capable of making big plays when they have the ball in their hands."
Spiller is ready to turn his game up, but Jackson's game has been revved up for a while. It will be important for Spiller to make the most of his opportunities in 2012, even if he thinks it's not enough.