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Thursday, September 29, 2011
Will Bills' Spiller, Smith find niche?

By James Walker

The Buffalo Bills are leading the NFL in scoring, averaging 37.7 points per game. But perhaps what's most impressive is they're doing it primarily without two of their most dynamic players.

Former 2010 first-round pick C.J. Spiller and free-agent signing Brad Smith haven't made much impact so far in Buffalo. The surprising, first-place Bills (3-0) are undefeated thanks to a variety of less-touted, overlooked players on offense.

Buffalo spent a combined $40 million in contracts on Spiller and Smith. But their roles on the team remain undefined.

Spiller is the backup to running back Fred Jackson, who is off to a tremendous start and is fourth in the NFL in rushing. Smith, who can play receiver and some quarterback, hasn't been needed with Buffalo's plethora of pass catchers. The Bills have a Wildcat package with Smith but have used it sparingly.

The bad news is Buffalo hasn't found a niche for Spiller and Smith. But the good news is the Bills could be even more dangerous if they figure out how to incorporate these two weapons.

More opportunities in the return game is one idea. Smith has proven to be a dangerous kick returner when he was with the New York Jets. Spiller already is getting some looks at punt return now that receiver Roscoe Parrish (ankle) is out for the year. Both also have to be ready to bigger roles offensively in case of injuries.

It's a long season. So keep an eye on how Spiller and Smith progress in Buffalo.