C.J. Spiller is aiming for bigger goals now that he has a Pro Bowl on his career resume.
The Buffalo Bills’ third-year running back was thinking more about what he might do next than what he did in 2012 during a conference call with Buffalo-area media on Monday.
“It’s just a stepping stone,” Spiller said. “To me this is kinda like I laid the foundation down for hopefully a long career that lies ahead.”
Spiller, defensive tackle Kyle Williams and safety Jairus Byrd all will represent the Bills in the Pro Bowl on Sunday, the NFL announced. They were named to the AFC roster to replace three Baltimore Ravens, who will be playing in the Super Bowl.
“You don’t want to have a great season then kind of tail off and don’t have any more great seasons,” Spiller said. “You kind of want to build off each season. This being my first 1,000-yard year, you always want to challenge yourself to do better next year. That’s what I mean by stepping stone. I don’t want to take any steps backwards in my career.”
Spiller ranked sixth in the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,703. He led all running backs in yards per touch at 6.8. His 1,244 rushing yards were eighth best in the league.
“Now I don’t have to worry about trying to go out there and press to get that 1,000-yard season,” Spiller said. “It’s already in the bag and I can go out there and just play and have fun knowing that I can continue to get better.”
Spiller refused to lament the fact he averaged only 13 carries a game, or that his 207 carries ranked 22nd in the league.
“Like I said all season long, it doesn’t matter to me how many times I got it,” Spiller said. “The only thing that was important to me was to win. I’m just trying to take advantage of every opportunity.”
“My first couple years, they didn’t go according to my plans that I wanted. But this year it definitely paid off – the hard work I put in, the first time I got a chance to have a full NFL offseason. It paid dividends for me. Coach [Chan] Gailey did a great job of putting me in position to showcase my talents and take advantage of what I could do on the field.”
Spiller said he’s looking forward to working with new coach Doug Marrone.
“I’ve heard tremendous things from peers and from coaches,” Spiller said of Marrone. “I’m real close with coach Jon Gruden, and he had nothing but nice things to say about him. He was excited about the hire. I’m definitely excited about the opportunity to get working and get this team turned around and get us back in the playoffs.”
Spiller replaces Ravens back Ray Rice. Williams, who had five sacks in 2012, replaces Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Williams also was an injury replacement for the Pro Bowl in 2010. Byrd replaces Ravens safety Ed Reed. Byrd made the AFC roster as a rookie in 2009 but didn’t get to go to Hawaii because he had a groin injury.
“I’m just really excited and I thank God for the opportunity,” Byrd said. “It’ll be really special to join my teammates C.J. and Kyle in Hawaii. I’m looking forward to playing in the game and the entire experience because I didn’t get a chance to do so in my rookie year.”
“It’s always an honor to represent your team and the city of Buffalo in the Pro Bowl,” Williams said in a statement. “To be recognized by the fans, your peers and the coaches you play against means a lot. Our goal next year, as it is every season, is to still be competing at this time.”