By Tim Graham
C.J. Spiller was masterful at hiding his frustrations last year.
When he got six carries against the Houston Texans one week and nine against the New England Patriots the next week, he would shrug in the locker room and reiterate that he was happy to be used however the team determined.
This year, though, Spiller's frustrations have reached their apex, not because of how the Bills are using him, but because he hasn't been there for them.
I asked Spiller today about his level of frustration when looking back on the series of injuries that've taken him off the field in the preseason and through the first four regular-season games.
"Ten," Spiller said, referring to his scale being pegged. "It's a 10. The frustration is a 10.
"The last two games, I haven't even completed the half."
Spiller is skeptical he can play Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns. He injured his left ankle in Sunday's victory over the Baltimore Ravens, one week after hurting his left quadriceps in a loss to the New York Jets.
"I thought I was really getting into a good groove," Spiller said of rushing for 61 yards against Baltimore before hurting his ankle on the first possession of the second half. He returned to the game but was gimpy and ineffective.
"For me not to be able to finish was the frustrating part, but that's football. A stupid injury happened. I've just got to move forward."
Spiller also left the Bills' second preseason game with a right knee injury and briefly removed himself on opening day after a helmet blow against the New England Patriots.
Spiller was afraid he broke a leg bone Sunday and feared his season might be over. X-rays were negative.
"It wasn't as swollen as we thought it was going to be," Spiller said of how his ankle looked today. "That's a good thing. Just going to take it day by day ... and come Thursday see how it feels."
Spiller said if he feels "85 to 90" percent Thursday that he's "going to give it a go" at FirstEnergy Stadium, the same place he writhed in agony last year and was carted off the field with a shoulder injury.
Cutting is Spiller's biggest worry. Elusiveness is his most precious trait. The ability to abruptly change direction on his left ankle will be important. He said he would get to the stadium a few hours early to test his ankle on the field.
He also doesn't want the Browns to target his injury.
"This is the NFL, and those guys are going to know that my ankle's not 100 percent," Spiller said. "They could have the mind-set, they might try to go after it.
"It's so much things that are going to factor in to how it responds in different situations. The only thing I can do right now is just take it day by day and see how it feels come Thursday."