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Spikes, Dixon newest additions in Buffalo

AP - Sports

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Running back Anthony Dixon is looking forward to carving a role for himself in Buffalo's talented backfield and teaming up with Buffalo's most significant free-agent addition, linebacker Brandon Spikes.

Both players agreed to terms on free-agent deals with the Bills late Friday night.

Last night I was telling him I was coming and we need leaders, you need to come,'' Dixon said on a conference call Saturday afternoon.

''He signed too, so that is great. I'm a big fan of Spikes and we both are from the SEC so I've known about him. Now I'm just excited to get to work with him too.''

Dixon and Spikes are the fifth and sixth free agents to sign in Buffalo in what has been a busy start to free agency. Spikes, however, is the most intriguing addition of them all.

Joining the Bills on a one-year contract, Spikes gives the Bills a physical, imposing presence in the middle of their defense. The 26-year-old is known for his ability to stop the run, addressing one of Buffalo's weakest areas from last season. Spikes had 86 tackles and one forced fumble last season in New England, his fourth with the Patriots.

The Bills finished 28th in the league against the run in 2013, allowing an average of 128.9 yards rushing per game. The defense is undergoing a transition under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who is taking over for Mike Pettine. Pettine left Buffalo after one season to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

Spikes is set to handle the middle of the field in a revamped group of linebackers. The Bills plan on moving young standout Kiko Alonso to the weak side after playing in the middle as a rookie, while free-agent addition Keith Rivers will take over strong-side duties.

Dixon gives the Bills added depth at running back and experience on special teams. Dixon ran for 458 yards and eight touchdowns in four years behind Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter with the San Francisco 49ers. He's joining another talented backfield in Buffalo, which finished second overall in rushing one year ago and features veterans Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.

''I wanted to be somewhere where somebody was going to put me to work like I wanted,'' Dixon said. ''I talked to (running backs coach Tyrone) Wheatley, I talked to coach (Doug) Marrone and that's their plan. ... I'm just looking to come in and show them what I can do and then it's up to them where they put me.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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