Jackson's injury leads to Spiller Time in Buffalo


Jackson's injury leads to Spiller Time in Buffalo

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) The only thing C.J. Spiller was running out of in Buffalo was the patience needed to answer the near-weekly round of questions of why he wasn't more involved in the Bills' offense.

``Pretty much, because, I don't know what else you all want me to say,'' Spiller said. ``I can only carry the ball when my number's called.''

Spiller should get accustomed to hearing his No. 28 called far more often over the final three games.

That's because ``Spiller Time'' has finally arrived after co-starting running back Fred Jackson was placed on the season-ending injured reserve Tuesday because of a sprained right knee.

Spiller doesn't enjoy the circumstances behind why he'll be getting more playing time. And yet, he's up to the challenge as Buffalo (5-8) prepares to ``host'' the Seattle Seahawks (8-5) at Toronto on Sunday.

``I'm not necessarily eager. I'm just eager to try to see what I can do to try to help us win,'' Spiller said. ``It's time for every playmaker on this team to rise up a little bit, including myself. So I definitely have to take it to another notch.''

Another notch might take his game to an unprecedented level.

With 944 yards on 144 carries, Spiller is averaging 6.55 yards per run. That's the NFL's highest total through 13 games since 1963, when Hall of Famer Jim Brown averaged 6.61 yards per carry with the Cleveland Browns.

Spiller insists he has nothing to prove to anyone whether he's getting 20-plus carries or just seven as happened in a 15-12 loss to St. Louis last weekend.

``My teammates know what I can do. My coaches know what I can do. I know what I can do as an individual. The only thing you have to prove is wins,'' Spiller said. ``I'm not in the business to try to please `Joe Blow' down the street because he wants me to carry the ball 30 times. That's not what we're all about.''

Spiller has been the Bills' most dynamic threat this season. And he's finally playing up to the expectations the team saw in drafting him with the ninth pick in 2010.

He leads the team with five touchdowns rushing and is on the verge of his first 1,000-yard season. Also a threat in the passing attack, Spiller has 34 catches for 354 yards and a score.

Spiller's production, however, has been overshadowed by lingering questions and criticisms of coach Chan Gailey, and why the running back isn't on the field more often for an offense that could certainly use a spark.

Spiller has had 15 or more carries this only twice this season, with a career-best 22 for 91 yards in a 19-14 win over Miami on Nov. 15. There have been far more times when Spiller's seemingly been overlooked, such as last week when he had only three carries in the second half.

Gailey explained Spiller's time was limited because of how the running back rotation was split with Jackson, who had nine carries. And he defended the need for having a rotation as an opportunity to keep both of his running backs fresh.

``They're both great players, and neither one of them are going to get it as much as they want,'' Gailey said. ``You could look at it and say there's a couple of plays I wish (Spiller) was in there on. And there were a couple of plays I wish Fred was in there on to be perfectly honest.''

That rotation is now out the window with Jackson hurt.

Gailey said Spiller will get a majority of playing time, with third-stringer Tashard Choice serving as the backup.

The two-back rotation is new to Gailey, an offensive-minded coach who has 18 years of NFL experience. In Dallas, he leaned on Emmitt Smith in 1998-99; in Pittsburgh, it was Jerome Bettis in the mid-90s; and in Denver, he was the offensive coordinator who had Bobby Humphrey break 1,100 yards in both 1989 and `90.

Gailey's philosophy changed last season when he was impressed by how Spiller closed the season averaging 74 yards over the final six games filling in for Jackson, who broke his right leg.

``We came into the season saying, `We've got two great backs, let's use them both, that way we may not wear one down,''' Gailey said. ``I'd do it again if I had to do it over.''

Spiller isn't going to argue.

``My style is I'll never go up there and beg, beg, beg for the ball, because I understand we've got a lot of playmakers out there,'' Spiller said. ``Everybody wants to try to make the play.

``I'm no different, but I'm not going to sit around and mope.''

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Tarik's 3 Stars: Wilson and Backstrom shine in Caps 3rd straight win

Tarik's 3 Stars: Wilson and Backstrom shine in Caps 3rd straight win

Tom Wilson scored twice, Nicklas Backstrom recorded four helpers and the assistant coaches chipped in with a big assist in Montreal, where the Caps earned a 6-4 victory over the Canadiens on Saturday night.

The win was Washington’s third in a row and seventh in eight games as they close in on another Metro Division title. Caps Coach Barry Trotz, meantime, claimed victory No. 200 in Washington; his next win will equal Bruce Boudreau for second all-time in franchise history.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Tom Wilson, Capitals

Wilson’s all-around game continues to blossom…and the Caps’ big winger continues to fill up the scoresheet. At Bell Centre, he scored back-to-back goals less than four minutes apart in the first period to put the Caps in command. Wilson also missed an empty net in the closing seconds by just a few inches. The soon-to-be 24-year-old now has 13 goals—six more than his previous career high.  

2-Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals

Backstrom notched four assists and, as usual, he did it quietly. And they weren’t cheapies—three of the four helpers were of the primary variety. Backstrom, who has four goals and 12 assists in his last 12 games, has now notched four or more points 20 times in his career. It was also his 11th-career four assist game.

3-Leonhardt and Ohashi, Capitals

That’s right, I’m giving the third star to assistant coaches Brett ‘Stretch’ Leonhardt and Tim Ohashi. They quickly spotted that the Habs were offside on their second goal. And, after a coach’s challenge, the refs agreed. Instead of 2-0, it remained 1-0 and the Caps took full advantage of their second chance, scoring the game’s next four goals.

Agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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Growing rumors that Redskins will land Pernell McPhee

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Growing rumors that Redskins will land Pernell McPhee

Every team in the NFL would love to add to their pass rush, and the Redskins are no exception. The team withdrew its contract offer to Junior Galette, spurring rumors that they were looking elsewhere.

The Redskins recently had linebacker Pernell McPhee in for a visit, and rumors are swirling that the former Bear is close to joining the Burgundy and Gold.

Nothing has been confirmed, but if McPhee does come to Washington, it would be in the hopes that he can provide a boost to the team's pass rush. The linebacker has proven himself capable of getting to the quarterback in his seven seasons in the NFL, recording 31.0 sacks in his career, with 21.5 of those coming in the last four years. He's also forced at least one fumble in each of the past five seasons.

Playing in the DMV again would mark a homecoming of sorts for McPhee, who played in Baltimore for 4 seasons after being drafted by the Ravens in the 5th round of the 2011 draft before signing in Chicago as a free agent.