ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- When the Buffalo Bills travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns in primetime on Thursday night, there is a chance third-string running back Tashard Choice is going to be the featured back in the Buffalo offense.
C.J. Spiller is nursing an ankle injury and even if he can play, Spiller may not be able to make it through the game. Fred Jackson, who is actually much more than your run-of-the-mill backup, has a sprained MCL and while coach Doug Marrone said he's "feeling pretty good about Fred," Jackson may also be limited if he does dress and play. Both players practiced on a limited basis Tuesday.
Thus, Choice may get the bulk of the work in the game, and it seems somewhat appropriate that Cleveland is the opponent. Last season when the Bills played in Cleveland, Jackson was out with a knee injury, and Spiller went down in the first quarter with a shoulder injury. In came Choice, and he rushed for 91 yards on 20 carries to help the Bills pull off a 24-14 victory. That was Choice's second-best total in his six-year NFL career, topped only by a 100-yard effort for Dallas in 2010.
"It's sort of the same situation; when opportunity knocks, you've gotta ball," Choice said. "If it comes down that I have a bigger role, I'm ready to roll. I've got to hold the fort down."
Choice has played primarily on special teams for the Bills since coming to the team midway through 2011 after he had been cut first by Dallas, and then by Washington. Choice had played for then Bills coach Chan Gailey at Georgia Tech and the fit was natural, but when Gailey was fired after 2012, Choice remained, and he has adapted well to his role of occasional fill-in and special teams stalwart.
"We have all the confidence in the world in him," said Spiller, who is adamant he will play Thursday. "He did it last year when Fred went down and it was just me and him. We expect the same thing. He prepares hard. He knows what he's doing, so we don't have any problem putting him out there. He's been around a long time, so he understands this game. We look forward to having '20' out there, he's a fun guy to be around."
Jackson has been saying since getting hurt on Sunday that he doesn't think his injury is serious. He's going to wear a knee brace like he did in practice Tuesday, and try to play.
"Barring any major setback, I'll be able to play on Thursday," said Jackson. "Right now, it's just about strengthening it. Doing some rehab-type things to get the ligaments stronger."
That may just be a smokescreen, though. Choice took the bulk of the reps Tuesday, and he's confident that he can carry the load if he needs to in this latest Battle of Lake Erie game.
"I know I can play just as well when I get the opportunity, so I approach it the same way: When you get a chance, you just make the most of it," he said. "There are opportunities for different guys for different reasons. I can't control any of that. All I know is when I'm in the game, I just gotta play. I just gotta let what I know how to do, my abilities that I have, to let them out. I understand the offense and what I've got to do as far as pass protection and the run plays. I stay on top of that so when I'm in there there's no letdown."
As for Spiller, he said, "If it was a Sunday game I'd definitely say I'd be out there. I'm going to do everything I can to position myself to be out there."
During his career, Choice has averaged 4.3 yards on 331 carries and has scored 10 touchdowns. He also has 77 pass receptions for 560 yards, but he has never been a featured back on any of his three teams.
-- CB Leodis McKelvin is still slowed by a hamstring injury and is not practicing fully.
-- FS Jairus Byrd was a full participant in practice for the first time, and there's a chance that he could make his season debut Thursday.
-- SS Aaron Williams was limited in practice due a back contusion suffered in the Baltimore game.
-- DE Mario Williams rested his nagging ankle and practiced on a limited basis.
-- OG Kraig Urbik is still bothered by a balky knee and was limited in practice
By The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: October 1, 2013 06:40:44 PM
Bills may have one Choice in backfield
|All Times Eastern|