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Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Realistic expectations for C.J. Spiller

By James Walker

Guess who is leading the NFL in rushing after Week 1? It's not Arian Foster or Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson.

The current rushing leader is Buffalo Bills backup tailback C.J. Spiller. He lit up the New York Jets last week for 169 yards and a touchdown in a career-best performance. With starter Fred Jackson (knee) out for at least a month, Spiller will have plenty of opportunities to continue putting up numbers.

But Spiller will not rush for 169 yards every week. So what are realistic expectations for the 2010 first-round pick?

To project Spiller's future, you must first look at his past.

Spiller faced a similar situation last season when Jackson broke his leg in Week 11. Spiller started Buffalo's final six games and averaged 74.3 yards and 14.3 carries per game. Spiller also averaged 5.2 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns in that span.

Spiller has proven he can be productive. But will the Bills give Spiller enough carries?

Buffalo runs a spread offense under coach Chan Gailey that can get pass-happy at times. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an astounding 569 times last season. Buffalo doesn't run the type of offense where Spiller will get 30 carries a game.

About 20 carries is probably more realistic for Spiller. The key is Spiller must make the most of those opportunities like he did against the Jets.