After three seasons of sharing the backfield duties with Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller enters 2013 as the No. 1 back with a goal of rushing for 2,000 yards this season.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett plans to feed Spiller "until he throws up" and the 2010 first-round pick out of Clemson looked very explosive in the preseason debut against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
Considering Spiller's slight frame, it is reasonable to wonder if he could withstand the workload necessary to rush for 2,000 yards. Head coach Doug Marrone addressed that topic on Tuesday.
"I think the human spirit is a funny thing. You can never underestimate the power of that," Marrone said. "He’s one of the few players, and there’s not many, that you talk about your mind over your body. He would be able to do that. I think you see that with a lot of the players that are out here. In this game, we all know that there’s an expiration date on everyone’s body. You have to make sure that you have a strong mind and push through it."
Spiller has considerable financial motivation to strive for a 2,000-yard season.
Spiller is entering the fourth season of his five-year rookie contract that included up to $11.25 million in base salary escalators for the 2014 season. If Spiller were to rush for 2,000 yards in 2013, he would add at least $1.75 million to a 2014 base salary that is already slated to be worth just under $3.5 million. If Spiller's salary reaches over $5 million in the final year of the contract, he could be in line for an extension.
As for Hackett's comments about giving the ball to Spiller until he throws up, Marrone was not pleased with how his 33-year-old coordinator chose to express himself.
"First off, as far as the comment, obviously, I'm quite different than Coach Hackett in how I express myself," Marrone said. "I think as coaches we need to be careful of what we say. I said that to Nathaniel and I said that to the team. I think we all knew what he meant but, again, in this day and age, not everybody that’s involved in the game in football, truly understands that. We want to be true professionals in how we represent our sport."