As one of the featured columnists for the Buffalo Bills, I was asked to conduct an interview with C.J. Spiller, on behalf of the Bleacher Report. I asked a wide range of questions of C.J., some of them easy, and some hard, but he handled everything with grace and did not fumble one question.
C.J. clearly is a class act and is not looking to stir up any controversy, a welcome addition to the Buffalo Bills organization. I found C.J. to be humble, well spoken and easy to talk to. C.J. had just signed a deal with Adidas, so that was one of the many areas we addressed.
The interview will follow directly:
BR : C.J., I am delighted to have the opportunity to talk to you today.
C.J. : Thank you. Looking forward to it.
BR : Now that you have gone through mini-camps and OTA's, what is the biggest difference you see between the college game and the pro game?
C.J. : The speed of the game is different. Definitely faster in the pros. Also, I see that we spend less time on the practice field. In college you might spend two to three hours on the practice field, but in the pros it is less.
You have to refine things you do wrong in practice in the film room, so you can correct your mistakes quicker, be more effective and efficient in practice time. You also learn from the older guys.
BR : What do you see as your biggest challenge in your rookie season?
C.J. : How do I handle adversity whenever it hits. How you handle adversity is a true test of what you are made of. You have to have a different mindset when you are faced with adversity, so that is going to be my biggest challenge.
BR : What was it about the new Adidas adiZero Scorch cleats that caused you to sign a deal with them?
C.J. : I told my agent that I wanted the lightest cleat that was in the market. They made a great presentation to me. I have used the lightest cleat I could find in both high school and in college, so I wanted to do the same in the NFL. They felt very comfortable to me.
BR : Has Adidas said anything to you about how they will perform in the elements - if you have to play in snow or mud?
C.J. : The cleats should hold up fine in the elements. We have a fast surface here, so the traction is important that allows me to get in and out my cuts faster. I have never played in snow before.
BR : Well, I would be surprised if you made it through the season without any snow in Buffalo.
C.J. : (laughs)
BR : I noticed that you and Reggie Bush will be the only two players in the NFL this year that are going to be wearing the adiZero Scorch cleats. Does this mean that you are the fastest NFL player that will wear them?
C.J. : (laughs). I have not raced Reggie Bush yet.
BR : Like I said, won't you be the fastest player to be wearing them?
C.J. : (laughing harder) Don't go there....
BR : Have you looked at the Bills 2010 schedule yet? What is the game or games that you are really looking forward to this year?
C.J. : (laughs)... I am not going to be giving any team any bulletin board material to work with.
BR : You have now had the opportunity to catch passes from all four of the Bills quarterbacks. Who do you find throws the hardest ball to catch?
C.J. : All four quarterbacks are talented people. They are all well prepared. Our job is to lend our talent to make their job easier, which is to allow us to win. That is our goal.
BR : What do you project is going to be your main role on the team this year?
C.J. : I will be sitting down with the coaching staff and they will be going over all of that with me later. Right now I am prepared to do whatever they ask me to do that allows the Bills to win.
BR : How are things progressing towards you reaching a deal with the Buffalo Bills ?
C.J. : Contract negotiations with my agent have not started yet. Nobody in the top 10 draft picks has had any serious dialogue yet that I am aware of. That will happen later on towards camp.
BR : What are your thoughts C.J. on the Chris Johnson situation?
C.J. : He is a great player and he wants to be paid like a great player should be. I can not speak on behalf of Chris Johnson but I think he is handling everything in a very professional manner.
BR : Now that Marshawn Lynch is back in camp with you and Freddy Jackson, what do you think about the competition level between the Bills' running backs?
C.J. : We have great competition at camp. We all go out and compete. All three of us are ready to help out the team and let us win. We already have two great running backs and a rookie in me, because I have not proved anything yet at the NFL level. That lights my eyes up. I don't know of any team in the NFL that has three great backs.
BR : Well I am confident that by the end of the year, you will be considered to be a great back as well.
C.J. : (laughs). Thank you. I hope so.
BR : How well is the Bills offensive line shaping up so far. You have new players in camp, Jamon Meredith working over at left tackle, Eric Wood and Demetrius Bell coming off of their surgeries. How are things looking so far on the line?
C.J . : They are working hard and I think our line will be fine.
BR : How much of the Bills history were you already aware of before the team drafted you ?
C.J. : I knew some of the players that the team had like O.J. Simpson and Thurman Thomas. I also know that they had won four straight AFC Championships.
BR : Are you aware of the rich tradition of running backs that have succeeded in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills?
C.J. : I know about O.J. and Thurman. I also remember Travis Henry.
BR : How about running backs like Joe Cribbs or Cookie Gilchrist?
C.J. : Can't say that I am aware of either of them.
BR : What parts of Buffalo have you started to enjoy so far in your down time?
C.J. : Well, we haven't had much down time so far. I have done a tour of the city with the other rookies. We went to Niagara Falls, and I have visited a number of Boys Clubs and Girls Clubs. I also went to Duff's and I really enjoyed the chicken wings there.
BR : Sounds like you just made an endorsement of Duffs. You should be expecting free wings there from now on.
C.J .:(laughs).They were awesome.
BR : Have you found a place to live in Buffalo yet ?
C.J . : Still looking. Haven't found a place to live yet. I have some ideas and have heard of a number of places.
BR : What are your impressions of the new coaching staff at Buffalo?
C.J. : Well, I played against the majority of these coaches when they were at Georgia Tech, so I was already aware of them from that experience. I knew that Chan Gailey excelled on offense.
BR : What do you think about the new strength and conditioning program being installed this year for the Bills?
C.J. : It is pretty similar with what we did at Clemson.
BR : Looking at all areas of responsibility for a running back, what are the coaches working with you on the most now?
C.J. : I am trying to up my game in all areas. In protecting the quarterback, I need to be willing to block the rusher. I have to make up my mind that I want to sacrifice my body to do that, and to make the right decision on who to block.
Running the ball is the easiest part for me. That is what I do. I enjoy catching the ball as well. I am studying in the film room on who I am responsible for blocking and being more consistent in that.
BR : Are there any NFL running backs, current or retired, that you have copied your game from?
C.J. : No, I can't say that I have. There are a number of backs like Marshall Faulk that are speed guys - Reggie Bush too, but outside of having speed, I don't try to copy anybody else. You see things and incorporate them in to your game, but you just try to be yourself and do the best that you can.
BR : Are there any players at Clemson that Bills fans should be watching this year that have the chance to be making an impact in the NFL next year?
C.J . : There are a number of great players at Clemson. The ones I think have a chance to play at the next level are: Da'Quan Bowers (Defensive End), DeAndre McDaniel (Strong Safety), and our cornerbacks Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell.
BR : What do you have to say to the NFL experts or critics that have predicted that the Bills will finish with the worst record in the NFL this year?
C.J. : I haven't heard that prediction yet. Everybody is entitled to voice their own opinion.
BR : With respect to your Adidas cleats, I would like to be able to say that you will succeed in "scorching" your opponents with one 100 yard rushing game after another.
C.J. : (laughs)... Well, those are your words, not mine. If the media wants to run with something like that, that would be fine with me.
BR : C.J., I want to thank you for being so gracious with your time. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation today.
C.J. : Likewise... Thank you.