Officially, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller have been listed as questionable, even though Bills head coach Chan Gailey said that both of his top running backs have a “legitimate chance” to play Sunday against New England after being limited participants in today’s practice.
But that questionable tag feels like it only applies to Jackson in the Belichickian sense of the word, while Spiller is a little further back. We’re basing that on 1.) the pretense of medical expertise that’s a total lie and 2.) the fact that Spiller only took a handful of snaps in yesterday’s practice, meaning he epitomized another very vague tag (limited). Although he’s healing fast, it may not quite be fast enough for Sunday. There’s also the little detail of Spiller being only five days removed from his injury, while Jackson has had two weeks to heal.
If that hypothesis is correct it’s unfortunate for Spiller. But while the short-term impact is obvious (Jackson stars, Spiller sits out, and Tashard Choice is the backup in an unfavorable mathup against the Patriots front seven), the long-term forecast doesn’t change, and that’s because it’s already changed.
The Bills entered this season set for a platoon in their backfield which favored Jackson. So when he went down and suddenly Spiller looked like another former Bills running back who’s only addressed by his initials, the dynamic changed. Spiller had 422 all-purpose yards with four touchdowns in Jackson’s absence, pushing the workload distribution in his favor. Jackson could claw back with a good performance this week, but at the very least an even split will surely develop going forward.
Sadly, that will decrease the value of both players, which is especially discouraging for Spiller owners who were enjoying winning.