By Tim Graham
No one can dispute C.J. Spiller had a breakout season in 2012.
The Buffalo Bills running back emerged as a potential superstar, almost doubling his rushing total from the previous two seasons by running for 1,244 yards and six touchdowns despite averaging only 13 carries a game.
Where does Spiller rank among the game's best running backs? How good can he be?
"You're always shooting to be the best," Spiller said after Wednesday's voluntary workout at One Bills Drive.
Spiller was reserved on such topics for nearly three years, but he started to deliver self-assured opinions at the end of last year. He spoke about challenging Adrian Peterson as the NFL's top back and about rushing for 2,000 yards.
Spiller's entering this season with perspective, but he's not backing away from those lofty goals and is keeping an eye on whether he'll appear on the NFL Network's "The Top 100 Players of 2013" list.
"That would be a great honor to be on because that's voted on by your peers," Spiller said. "But if not, you can't let that kill your confidence. It would just add another woodblock to your fire because you always want to be one of the best in this league and at your position."
Spiller also has 2,000 yards in his sights but claimed he doesn't want the milestone more than getting Buffalo to the playoffs.
"It's on the bucket list," Spiller said. "There's only a few guys that can say they're in the 2,000 club.
"At the end of the day, if you can get that and still don't make the playoffs, it'll look good for that individual, but for the team you're going home in January. So my main focus is trying to win and figuring out a way to get my team over the hump and not go home early."
Spiller is entering his prime. He will turn 26 in August, and with Fred Jackson fending off injuries at 32 years old, the runway has been cleared for Spiller's takeoff.
Spiller insisted he's not taking his future for granted after one incandescent season.
"I've put that season in a jar, closed the lid tight and put it on the shelf," Spiller said. "I'll open up a new one and see what I can stick inside that one."
Maybe that's the only way to contain him.
"I think I'm still growing," Spiller said. "You listen to some of the great guys that have played this game, take a guy like Ray Lewis. Each year he starts over with a new notebook because the previous year means nothing.
"I always want to try to continue to get better. That's what I'm looking forward to doing."