Bills need Spiller to be more productive vs. Panthers

ORCHARD PARK – If the Buffalo Bills are going to be successful today against the Carolina Panthers, they are going to need C.J. Spiller to be the dynamic running back he was for much of last season.

“I kind of went back to some of my old stuff,” Spiller said of his performance last week against the New England Patriots. “That was really the biggest thing when I said I was disappointed. Kind of went back to some of my old habits. I wasn’t letting the offensive line do its job because I was rushing stuff. Total opposite of what I’ve been doing since March and training camp.”

Spiller, who rushed for 41 yards on 17 carries in the Bills’ Week 1 loss, is confident he’ll be able to straighten himself out.

“The great thing about it is it’s very correctable,” Spiller said. “That’s the thing that we’ve been preaching, that I’ve been preached on this week. Just do the little things, take my time, tempo and when I make a decision, just go with it. (Last) Sunday there was just so much going on, I wasn’t playing free.”

Standing in the way of Spiller will be the Panthers’ defense, which is led by linebacker Luke Kuechly.

“(Luke) Kuechly is in the middle and he runs sideline to sideline,” Bills’ center Eric Wood said. “(I’ve) got a lot of respect for a guy like Thomas Davis, coming off three (torn) ACL’s, still moving around the way he is and then (Jon) Beason, I’ve gone against him since college. He’s a thumper, but he can also run. All three of those guys play well.”

If Spiller can’t get going today at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Bills will have to turn to veteran running back Fred Jackson and rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel.

“I think C.J.’s (Spiller) done a great job,” Manuel said. “For me, personally, he’s been a great leader to me in that backfield, but obviously if C.J. has a big game this offense is going to go great. I think it’s one of those things if we all do our part collectively it will go great.”

Buffalo will also have to play better on third down, on both offense and defense, if they plan on getting into the win column.

“For us, we go into a game having a plan on how to win,” Bills’ head coach Doug Marrone said. “Percentage-wise and points-wise. I think we were looking at the game, going into New England we had talked about two specific things. When those two specific things were in our favor we were winning the game and when it switched, obviously we fell short.”

On the other side of the field will be Cam Newton, one of the more athletically gifted quarterbacks to come into the National Football League in recent memory.

“From my eyes, he’s obviously a very versatile athlete,” Bills’ defensive end Mario Williams said. “He can make the throws, has a strong arm and is obviously gifted athletically. He can get out of the pocket and make plays. I think the biggest thing is trying to keep him under wraps early. Don’t let him get hot.”

In order to slow Newton down, the Bills will need to create pressure to keep him behind the line of scrimmage, and when he breaks containment, the Buffalo linebacking crew will need to be quick to react.

“After what we faced last week, you’re going from two extremes,” Williams said. “When you’ve got somebody like (Tom) Brady and now you’ve got a guy who is more mobile, more athletic and more liable to run, it’s definitely a change-up.”

One Bill who has experience seeing Newton in person is rookie linebacker, Kiko Alonso, who saw him play during the 2010 BCS title game while playing with Oregon.

“I remember we did a good job against (Cam) Newton from stopping him from running,” Alonso said. “But he beat us with his arm a number of times. I think we need to play better this game than we did in the National Championship. We did play really well in the National Championship, not to take anything away. We just have to play really well against the option, against him running and throwing.”