May 7, 2010
Bills' Spiller has no beefsBuffalo's top pick says he just wants to prove he can be effective running the football
By MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- C.J. Spiller’s initial introduction to Buffalo wasn’t exactly accurate, but it’s getting there.
When the Florida native touched down in Buffalo he tweeted about his excitement for the coming weekend workouts and then added: “btw, great weather here.”
Now, anyone who knows anything about Buffalo and football knows good weather and this team are about as far apart as new GM Buddy Nix and a grammatically correct thought.
But it was barely an hour into Spiller’s first workout with his new club, before Spiller got introduced to something a little closer to the norm in Buffalo.
Clear skies and a light breeze were quickly pushed away and replaced by a cool drizzle that had onlookers scampering for cover inside the roofed practice facility. Spiller and the rest of the Bills didn’t have that option.
Spiller, though, wasn’t complaining. In fact following a scrum with the local media and a shorter one-on-one interview after, Spiller left with the impression that he doesn’t bother complaining, ever. Go back through his countless interviews since the Bills made him the No. 9 overall pick in the draft and if you didn’t know he was 22, you might think he was a polished late 20s professional.
The fact he still looks his questioner in the eye gives away his rookie status. Pros, at least the vast majority, just don’t do that anymore.
Spiller was by no means a consensus first-round pick by the Bills. There are plenty out there who consider his selection a poor one for no other reason than the Bills have more pressing needs than running back.
And while no one seems to be questioning his speed or work ethic, plenty question his ability to be the kind of featured back that a No. 9 overall draft pick normally becomes. He can score via the pass, the run, punt return, even kickoff return. But the consensus seems to be just don’t ask him to carry the load.
The comparisons range from a Reggie Bush in New Orleans to Brian Westbrook, formerly of the Eagles and now nibbling at a job with the Rams.
Bush is the big payoff back, but one who can’t pound the ball with enough regularity or success to stay on the field for series after series. Westbrook is the back who runs the ball just enough to stay on the field to allow his pass catching abilities out of the backfield to make it worth it.
Spiller, who is listed at 196 pounds on the Bills depth chart but said after the morning workout he is up to 198, says he’s not worried about any of the talk that he may not be durable enough to be kind of back that warrants such a high pick.
“At the end of the day, everybody puts their pads on the same way,” Spiller said getting the interview rolling with a cliche even a veteran would be proud of. “You can’t question a guy’s heart. You look at (Tennessee’s) Chris Johnson. I’m pretty sure he didn’t play at 200 pounds every game. I’m not worried about that. I won’t let that (talk about questionable durability) discourage me.”
Sounding much wiser than his 22 years, Spiller said comparing his game to anyone else’s game is a bad path.
“Then everyone is just going to be wondering why I wasn’t doing what that guy did,” he said. “My main thing is just go out and do what I have been doing and get better each day.”
MAYBE MAMA TALKED
Michael Oher, who helped make left tackle the position to be in on the offensive line with the Hollywood movie the Blind Side may finally have got there himself in the NFL. Oher started five games at left tackle last season but only with incumbent Jared Gaither injured.
But at the Ravens’ first mini camp which opened yesterday, Oher was at left and Gaither had moved over to right. Gaither ticked off management when he skipped some earlier off-season conditioning workouts. There are reports that he may even be traded with the Bills reportedly interesting in bringing him in to protect their blind side.
AT THE HALF
Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing, the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year last season, was suspended Friday for four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substances policy ... In the hope of mastering Mike Martz’s offence, Jay Cutler is considering reaching out to Kurt Warner and picking the brain of the quarterback who enjoyed the most success playing under the so-called offensive genius. Cutler told the Chicago Tribune he initially texted the former Ram and Cardinal but wants to fully immerse himself in the Martz magic before going more in depth with Warner. The line between football and rocket science gets shorter every season ... Nike stuck with Tiger Woods but it took Nutrisystem only 24 hours to cut Lawrence Taylor.