Buffalo Bills: Spotlighting the RB Position Heading into the 2012 NFL Season
Fred Jackson was the main source of the Bills rush offense, adding 934 yards on 170 carries in the nine games he played prior to a season-ending injury. When C.J. Spiller took over, the run game didn't miss a beat, so both will be competing for playing time.
Let's take a look at the running backs currently on the Bills roster.
Despite Jackson being 31 years old, Bills general manager Buddy Nix stayed true to his word of retaining the team's leading rusher.
"We've always said we're going to keep our good players and we've done it again today," Nix said.
The deal is worth $10.8 million over three years, and it is well-deserved if Jackson can return to his previous form before his devastating leg injury (a fractured fibula). In just nine games last season, Jackson was the Bills' top offensive contributor, adding 1,376 total yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns.
When Jackson went down against the Miami Dolphins, former first-round draft pick Spiller took over the reins in the Buffalo backfield. He played surprisingly well for those who believed he was an outside runner, gaining 561 yards on 107 carries and four touchdowns, adding another 39 receptions for 269 yards and two scores.
There is a healthy competition at the running back position, but head coach Chan Gailey believes that both Jackson and Spiller will be used simultaneously. Gailey told BuffaloBills.com:
"You don't want to do too much when they're both in there because if you lose one of them then you're without a big part of your package. So you're trying to construct enough to create problems for the defense, but not so much that you're relying totally on having both of them at the same time. That's a fine line that you walk creating offenses to be able to take advantage of both good players."
"I can promise you this, we will not make everybody happy. That will not happen this year. The only thing that will make everybody happy is winning. That's what the goal is, to come up with plans that incorporate everybody’s abilities that allow us to win. Other than that I can't predict what's going to happen as far as percentages for their touches."
With Gailey stating that "not everybody will be happy," the training camp battle between Jackson and Spiller will be great to pay attention to and will determine who gets the majority of playing time this season.
The Buffalo Bills brought in running back Tashard Choice last year in the middle of the season to add competition for fellow third-string running back Johnny White. Choice saw limited action with the Bills, his third team of the year, and saw just 23 carries during the six games for which he was on the roster.
Choice chose to re-sign with the Bills during the offseason, agreeing to a one-year extension worth $700,000.
The Bills selected White in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, after finishing his career as a North Carolina Tar Heel with 1,262 yards and eight touchdowns despite playing only two seasons as a full-time running back.
Used primarily on special teams in his rookie year, White saw 12 attempts in which he gained a mere 38 yards. With heavy competition ahead of him just for the No. 3 running back job, White will have to show a great leap in the upcoming training camp to make an impression on the coaching staff.
Chris Douglas is currently tied with White as the No. 4 running back on the Buffalo Bills depth chart, according to BuffaloBills.com.
A bruising running back who stands just 5'8" but carries a stout 215 pounds, Douglas was brought in as an undrafted free agent out of Missouri State. In college, Douglas rushed 370 times for 1,887 yards, averaging an impressive 5.1 yards per carry. He added another 35 receptions out of the backfield for 225 yards and three more touchdowns.
Douglas is most likely a training camp body, but if he plays as his scouting report reads, he could be fighting with White for the last running back job.
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