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C.J. Spiller's goals much bigger than the Pro Bowl

By Tim Graham

C.J. Spiller doesn't view his Pro Bowl selection as a crowning achievement.

He called it "just a stepping stone."

Spiller was selected today for his first Pro Bowl. He will replace Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who is headed to the Super Bowl and ineligible for the all-star exhibition.

"To me, this right here was kind of like I laid the foundation for hopefully a long career that lies ahead," Spiller said on a conference call with Bills reporters.

Three weeks ago, Spiller boldly suggested he wanted to challenge Adrian Peterson to a race at Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record. Peterson finished 9 yards short of surpassing the 2,105 yards Dickerson gained in 1984.

"When I say stepping stone, you don't want to have a great season and then kind of tail off and not have any more great seasons," Spiller said. "You want to kind of build off each season.

"This being my first 1,000-yard year, you always want to challenge yourself to do better next year. ... I don't want to take any steps backwards in my career. I want to always have something to look forward to the next year.

"Now I don't have to worry about going out there and trying to press to get that first 1,000 yards. It's already in the bag, and now I can go out there and just play and have fun and know that I can continue to get better."

Spiller was gracious in saying that former Bills coach Chan Gailey, hotly criticized for how he used Spiller last season, "did a great job of putting me in position to showcase my talents and take advantage of what I can do on the field."

Spiller ranked eighth in the NFL with 1,244 yards rushing yards. He averaged 6.0 yards per attempt but averaged only 13 carries a game.

Spiller's 207 carries ranked 22nd in the league. Vick Ballard and Mikel Leshoure (suspended for two games) had more carries than Spiller did.

"All season long, it didn't matter to me how many times that I got it," Spiller said. "The only thing that was important to me was the wins and losses. I was just trying to take advantage of the opportunities that were given to me."

But Spiller indicated he'll want more involvement under new head coach Doug Marrone. Again, Spiller stressed he wants to evolve as a running back.

"Now that I guess you can say that I can be labeled as a Pro Bowl player, I'm going to have to take my game up even another notch," Spiller said. "It depends on how many carries I get. I'm not going into the season looking for a certain amount. Once I sit down with the running-backs coach [Tyrone Wheatley] and Coach Marrone, that'll be discussed.

"For me, it's 'What can I do to help my team?' Sitting around, watching these guys in the playoffs and watching the conference championship game, it just gave me chills because you want to be out there.

"You want to be in those big games. You want to be the ones making those big plays and at the end of the game holding up that Lamar Hunt Trophy and representing the AFC in the Super Bowl."

That means somebody else would have to replace Spiller in the Pro Bowl.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |