The Buffalo Bills look to have found hidden gold with C.J. Spiller. That being said, risking another injury for their new-found star would be a mistake of epic proportions, even if he can physically play against the New England Patriots this weekend.
Spiller is fourth in the league in rushing with 308 yards, second in yards from scrimmage with 422 and by all accounts the biggest surprise of this 2012 season so far on offense.
Fred Jackson's knee injury gave him a chance to shine, and he responded big in all three games, putting up huge numbers while helping the Bills get out to a 2-1 start, tied for first in their division with the New York Jets.
But to bring him back for a big matchup with the Pats would be a monumental mistake.
Spiller, who injured his shoulder in the first half against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3, has been trying to practice all week and been in and out of the updates on whether he will or won't play.
The latest news out of Buffalo from Bills Network Radio reporter Joe Buscaglia is that both Jackson and Spiller have a 50-50 shot of taking the field at home on Sunday when the opening kickoff is over.
Bills' Jackson, Spiller 50-50 shot to play Sunday bit.ly/QKARmm— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) September 28, 2012
Two consecutive days of practice and some solid treatment from the medical staff have left Spiller, along with his backfield mate Jackson, both listed as questionable for the game on Sunday.
While those are great prospects for their chances to play and even for the chances that you'll need to start them in your fantasy football lineup this week, risking injury with Spiller, and for that matter Jackson, isn't worth it for these Bills.
Missing two starting-caliber running backs doesn't bode well for their chances against New England, you say? Consider this: while New England is only giving up 81 yards on the ground per game, their secondary has been a huge concern, allowing over 260 yards through the air each game.
That's great news for Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo offense, who've had some solid games through the air this year already. It also takes some of the pressure off the man scheduled to replace the two Bills RBs if they can't go—Tashard Choice.
Choice is a solid running back. He can carry the load for one game against the Patriots. Even though it's a divisional rivalry, the Patriots' game isn't a must win, in my book.
If you look at the schedule, going on the road the following two weeks against the San Fransisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals, two teams with tenacious defenses, it's going to be rough going on the ground without your two best backs.
Keeping them out this week against the Patriots, while not the popular move, makes more sense than risking their injuries to win a Week 4 game.
Spiller's shoulder, which is crucial to a running back's success, is going to be more important against the hard-hitting 'Niners and Cardinals than this week against the Pats.
Starting 2-2 wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for the Bills. Starting 3-1, while losing Spiller for the season would be disastrous, especially after discovering the new big-play element Spiller brings to the table.
If he plays, he starts, so this is a big decision for coach Chan Gailey and the medical staff for Sunday's game.