AFC East: running back

The NFL Network wrapped up its annual list of the league’s top 100 players this week. It’s a popular project in which the players themselves, which is a good angle to take.

However, something really stood out from an AFC East perspective: Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller and safety Jairus Byrd were both snubbed, left out of the top 100 as chosen their peers. But Byrd has represented the AFC in the Pro Bowl twice in the past four years, while not everyone on that list is a Pro Bowler. Spiller rushed for 1,244 yards, six touchdowns and averaged 6.0 yards per carry in 2012. He's one of the league’s most dynamic running backs.

Here is the simplest explanation why Byrd and Spiller didn’t make the list: Both play for Buffalo.

Sometimes these votes can be a popularity contest, even among fellow athletes. Spiller and Byrd play for the lowly Bills, who currently have the NFL's longest playoff drought, at 13 years. It's clear Buffalo doesn’t have much respect around the league -- and that's something the team has to earn by winning on the field. Byrd and Spiller were both guilty by Bills association.

But at least there is some reason for the Byrd and Spiller omissions. Perhaps the biggest snub from the NFL Network’s top 100 is New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. There is no explanation for him not being on the list.

AFC East over/under: C.J. Spiller

June, 25, 2013
With training camp just around the corner, the AFC East blog will provide over/under totals throughout the week for key players in the division. We start on Tuesday with dynamic Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller, who will begin the season as a starter for the first time in his four NFL seasons.


Will Bills RB C.J. Spiller have over/under 1,500 rushing yards?


Discuss (Total votes: 7,000)

The AFC East blog sets Spiller's over/under total for 2013 at 1,500 rushing yards. Can Spiller reach this number with Buffalo this season?

Spiller rushed for 1,244 yards and six touchdowns last year despite inconsistent opportunities under former Bills head coach Chan Gailey. Spiller received just 207 carries and averaged an astounding 6.0 yards per rush.

New Bills head coach Doug Marrone is not expected to make the same mistakes in his first year. Spiller will be the starter and veteran Fred Jackson the No. 2 running back heading into this season. Can Spiller handle the load and become one of the NFL's leading rushers?

Using our SportsNation poll, vote on the over/under total of 1,500 rushing yard for Spiller in 2013. You can also share your thoughts in the comments section below.
New York Jets backup running back Joe McKnight (ankle) made a return to practice on Friday. It turns out he will play in Sunday’s rivalry game against the New England Patriots.

This is significant because McKnight’s availability could mean fewer opportunities at running back for Tim Tebow. The Jets have been hinting that Tebow, a converted quarterback, could get some carries at tailback this week against New England.

The idea came out of necessity since McKnight and fellow running back Bilal Powell missed most of practice leading up to Sunday's game. But McKnight will spell starter Shonn Greene as the No. 2 tailback. It remains to be seen if Tebow will still get carries at tailback behind Greene and McKnight.

Here are the inactives for New England and New York:

Jets: QB Greg McElroy, RB Bilal Powell, G Caleb Schlauderaff, DT Kenrick Ellis, WR Clyde Gates, DT Sione Pouha, S Eric Smith

Patriots: RB Brandon Bolden, LB Tracy White, S Patrick Chung, G Logan Mankins, DE Jake Bequette, S Steve Gregory, DE Ron Brace