FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — C.J. Spiller has one touchdown this season — and it came against his current team.
The speedy running back caught a pass from Russell Wilson while he was with the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4 and took it 8 yards for a score to help beat the Jets 27-17 .
Just over a month later, Spiller is sharing a locker room with Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets, and they’ve been sure to remind him of it.
“I’ve been getting a lot of grief,” Spiller said with a smile after his first practice with New York on Thursday. “Fitzpatrick, he gave me grief and he said the least I can be is a plus-one now. So, I have to score, then score another one just to make up for that touchdown a couple of weeks ago.”
Spiller started the season with New Orleans, which released him on Sept. 13. He was signed by Seattle on Sept. 28 , and made his Seahawks debut against the Jets on Oct. 2.
But he played in only two games with Seattle, gaining 9 yards on three carries and catching five passes for 43 yards and that lone TD. The Seahawks cut him last Wednesday and the Jets, who had worked him out earlier this season, signed him Thursday .
“It’s been a crazy ride getting here,” Spiller said.
Spiller is also reunited with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, who coached him during his best seasons in Buffalo. In 2012, Spiller ran for a career-high 1,244 yards and six touchdowns with the Bills, and also set a personal best with 43 receptions for 459 yards and two TDs. During that season, Spiller had TD runs of 56 and 49 yards in the opener against the Jets, and caught a 66-yard TD pass — from Fitzpatrick — in the season finale.
“I think he recalled a lot in the one day we’ve had him,” Gailey said. “I think he recalled a good bit of how we were talking, the verbiage that we use. So it makes him viable to be able to play quicker. Now whether or not that’s this week, or not, I don’t know.”
For now, the Jets envision him as the No. 3 running back who could potentially contribute as a returner.
“He’s a very versatile guy,” Gailey said. “He can run the ball, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he did all those kind of things for us. We’ll have to wait and see how it fits all together. But he’s got ability. Obviously he’s got ability or else he wouldn’t be here.”
The 29-year-old Spiller, a 2010 first-round pick out of Clemson, has rushed for 3,442 yards and 12 touchdowns, and caught 197 passes for 1,477 yards and nine TDs in seven seasons. But he has never been able to live up to or duplicate the numbers he put up four seasons ago.
He broke his collarbone in 2014 and played in just nine games before signing a four-year, $18 million contract with the Saints the following offseason. Spiller played in 13 games with New Orleans, and a highlight was his 80-yard touchdown reception — Drew Brees’ 400th career TD pass — in a Week 4 overtime win against Dallas. But Spiller’s role diminished and he was passed on the depth chart, to the point he was inactive for this year’s opener and then released a few days later.
“There are a lot of variables,” Spiller said. “Going to New Orleans and having an injury, and trying to fight my way back and trying to play through that, and this year, they decided to go in a different direction.”
His stay in Seattle was short, and the one-time Pro Bowl selection was looking for his third team in a matter of weeks.
“I know I’m a great player,” he said. “I know I can play in this league. My confidence is not down, so I’m excited about the opportunity that I have here.”
Spiller joins a backfield that already includes Matt Forte and Bilal Powell, but thinks he can be a valuable addition to the Jets’ running game despite his subpar last few seasons.
“It’s just believing in yourself when nobody else does,” he said. “My inner circle, they believe in me. My family believes in me. Most important, my daughter believes in me. Everybody else, that’s just noise that I ignore and don’t worry about what people put on their blogs or what people say on their newscasts or whatever. I block all that stuff out and prepare the best way I can to be the best player I can.”
Which means Spiller expects to play at a high level, the same type of playmaker who made the Pro Bowl in 2012.
“I really do,” he said. “The only thing you can really do is just go out there and work. I think my man Marshawn (Lynch) said it best: ‘Talk will never solve anything. It’s just all about going out there and being about that action, boss.'”
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