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DETROIT - Tashard Choice knows what to expect in the role of No. 3 running back.
"In Dallas, there were always three of us. Me, Marion [Barber] and Felix [Jones]," said Choice, the Buffalo Bills' fifth-year running back out of Georgia Tech. "Now it's me, C.J. [Spiller] and Fred [Jackson]."
Choice knows carries will be hard to come by in the regular season behind those two. But that fact doesn't deter him.
"Hey, just wait. Everybody's going to play their part," he said. "It's a long season so you always tell yourself to think positive about your situation and make sure you help them when they're out on the field and when your turn comes they'll help you out."
Not surprisingly with that attitude, Choice is a favorite of Bills coach Chan Gailey, dating back to their time together with the Yellow Jackets.
"Tashard's a great all-around back. He can catch, he can block, he can run the football. He's great for your football team because of his attitude," Gailey said. "There are a lot of positives about Tashard."
Choice finished as the Bills' leading rusher in the preseason, with 32 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown. That total includes nine carries for 27 yards in Thursday's preseason finale, a 38-32 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
That's put him ahead of second-year man Johnny White, who fought through injuries and finished the preseason with 12 carries for 34 yards.
"We're going to have to make a decision about who that third back is,'' Gailey said earlier this week.
Choice, 27, started his college career at Oklahoma, but transferred back to his home state after his freshman year because of an illness suffered by his mother. He finished his final three years of college eligibility with Gailey.
"I understand Coach Gailey - his motto, his mind-frame as far as football," Choice said. "He loves the game of football, but more than anything, he likes people who are pros, who do their work. The details are important to him. [It's been that way] since I've been at Georgia Tech. If I made a cut, he'd be like, 'Emmitt Smith wouldn't make that cut.' "
The Bills' top two backs have complete games. Jackson is one of the more well-rounded runners in the NFL, and Spiller's pass protection has greatly improved. Choice said Gailey had the same approach in college.
"He always needed a lot of production from the running back. He feels like that's a condition and so does [offensive coordinator] Curtis Modkins," he said. "That's why you see Fred and CJ and the guys here, they have to do everything, because if we're going to win we're going to do well as a team on the offensive side of the ball. The running back has to produce a lot, a lot of yards, a lot of first downs, whatever, to make the whole team go. I think that's very important to him."
Choice joined the NFL as a fourth-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2008, starting three games as a rookie. He injured his calf and missed all of training camp during the 2011 season, then suffered hamstring and knee injuries that forced the Cowboys to waive him. He was picked up by the Washington Redskins, but lasted just one game. Choice joined the Bills on Nov. 23 of last year, then re-signed with the team in March.
"The offseason was a time for me to really get myself together. Get healthy, man," he said. "I was still banged up going through the whole year last year. It started in training camp, so I had a chance to come into a training camp healthy. That was really important for me."
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Cornerback Terrence McGee (knee), cornerback Ron Brooks (foot), right tackle Erik Pears (groin) and defensive end Mark Anderson (groin) all sat out for the Bills. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams also did not dress, although he was not listed on the team's inactives.
The Lions were without five defensive starters: S Louis Delmas, LB Stephen Tulloch, CB Chris Houston, DT Corey Williams and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch. Detroit did not dress 10 players.
Bills third quarterback/receiver Brad Smith suffered a groin injury in the first half and did not return.
"I don't think it's terribly bad, but it's not good anytime you get one of those," Gailey said of the injury.
Asked whether he thought it could complicate his decision regarding the quarterbacks with final cuts coming today, Gailey said: "I don't think so right now. Let's see how bad it is first."

email: jskurski@buffnews.com