Bills injured running back C.J. Spiller unsure whether he can return before end of the season

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ORCHARD PARK, New York — C.J. Spiller is keeping his spirits high even though the Bills running back's short- and long-term future in Buffalo is up in the air.

Speaking on Monday for the first time since breaking his collarbone two weeks earlier, Spiller said it was too early to determine whether he can be cleared to play before the end of the season.

"I don't want to put a percentage on it," Spiller said. "I'm just taking it one day at a time. If the doctors clear me and everything's well, obviously, I want to play."

As for what happens once his contract expires after this season, the Bills 2010 first-round draft pick said he's not considered the possibility of having played his final game in Buffalo.

"I'm not really worried about all that stuff," Spiller said. "That's going to take care of itself. My biggest thing is just getting back healthy."

Spiller was hurt in a 17-16 win over Minnesota on Oct. 19, when he was tripped up from behind and landed heavily on his left shoulder following a 53-yard run.

Spiller had surgery the following day and was placed on the reserve injured/designated to return list. That means he's eligible to begin practicing in four more weeks, and available to resume playing in Week 16, when Buffalo travels to play Oakland on Dec. 21.

He called it "one of those freak accidents," and is disappointed he can't contribute to the Bills' bid to make a second-half playoff push.

At 5-3, the Bills returned to practice following a five-day bye weekend off, and prepare to host Kansas City (5-3) on Sunday.

Spiller's rehab is currently limited to lower-body work to keep his legs fresh and cardio-therapy. He declined to provide a timetable as to when he can begin lifting weights.

"I haven't really gotten down about the whole situation," he said. "I've just kept them blinders on."

The 53-yard run was Spiller's longest of the season and came in a game the Bills lost co-starting running back Fred Jackson to a groin injury. Jackson is expected to miss two more weeks.

The injuries have forced the Bills to go with backups Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown, who combined for 59 yards on 29 carries in a 43-23 win over the New York Jets on Oct. 26.

The Bills running attack was struggling even when Spiller and Jackson were healthy.

Buffalo is averaging just under 100 yards rushing per game. That's a considerable drop off from last year when the Bills finished second in the NFL by averaging 144 yards rushing.

One issue is an unsettled offensive line that featured two rookie starters before sixth-year player Kraig Urbik replaced rookie Cyril Richardson at left guard against the Jets. Another issue has been adapting to the change at quarterback since veteran journeyman Kyle Orton took over for EJ Manuel in Week 5.

Orton is less mobile and more of a pocket passer, unlike Manuel who posed a threat to take off and run.

By comparison, Orton has improved the Bills passing attack. In going 3-1 since taking over, Orton has gone a combined 95 of 141 for 1,128 yards passing with nine years passing and three interceptions. He's also engineered two game-winning drives in the final minute.

Last week, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said he remains committed to running the ball even if it's getting stopped. He said the ground attack keeps defense's honest, opens up the Bills play-action passing game and becomes integral with the cold weather settling in Buffalo.

NOTES: DT Marcell Dareus was a late arrival for practice because of travel delays. ... Richardson and WR Mike Williams were excused from practice because of personal matters. Coach Doug Marrone said Williams should be back for practice Wednesday while Richardson could miss a few more days. ... WR Marquise Goodwin, who missed two games with a hamstring injury, and LB Ty Powell, who missed a game with an ankle injury, returned to practice.


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