By Tim Graham
When writing my NFL Sunday piece on Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller, one of the players I sought out was Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen.
Spiller's aim is to be considered the NFL's best running back. To do that, he'll need to overtake reiging MVP Adrian Peterson.
Allen and Peterson are entering their sixth season together with the Vikings. Allen had a chance to see Spiller up close when the Vikings visited Ralph Wilson Stadium in the preseason.
"He's a quick back," Allen said of Spiller. "If he sees daylight, he'll bounce the ball and take it to the outside. And he's a tough runner. He'll break some tackles. He has that big-play ability.
"The biggest thing is that he's not just a downhill guy. He has the speed to break it to the outside and break a tackle and create yards after contact. Those kinds of runners are dynamic in that way because you can play your gap, and you can shut it down all you want, but if he can outrun you to the sideline and create mismatches out on the edge, then it can be difficult."
Allen was on the field for only a couple series against Buffalo, but he got a taste of what Spiller can do.
"It's that burst," Allen said. "It's the vision, the ability to take that ball anywhere. Some runners will hit their gap and, when they hit the open field, they'll be dangerous. Obviously, with a guy that will take it from A-gap to B-gap, it can pose a few problems.
"We had him stopped for no gain. He stiff-armed a guy and picked up 6 or 7 yards."
Allen, however, said you can't compare Spiller to Peterson. Allen claimed they're too different.
"Adrian has the ability to pound the rock inside," Allen said. "Adrian's sheer size, he has a power about him. It's second to none. I've played against him. I know.
"Adrian is so dynamic and has that ability to pound the ball inside but then also break a tackle and take it to the edge. He has the ability to bounce the ball out, stiff arm, break tackles."
That said, Allen wouldn't scoff at Spiller's aspirations to overtake Peterson in the discussion of best running back. Peterson is a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro.
"Being a competitor, you always want to be better than the best, right?" Allen said. "But Adrian's hard to compare to anybody just because he's two completely different runners. He can power it with the best of them, but he can also take it to the corner and outrun just about anybody.
"But Spiller should shoot for it. If you're going to settle for being second best, nobody is going to want you in this league. Young guys should shoot for the moon."
taggedC.J. Spiller | NFL Sunday Outtakes