RENTON C.J. Spiller has had just one practice as a Seahawk.
So the 29-year old former Buffalo Bills Pro Bowl running back is tempering expectations on what he may be able to do for his new team that could use his help Sunday against the New York Jets in New Jersey.
“I just got here so we haven’t gotten into (my role). I’m still swimming I guess you can say,” Spiller said Thursday, one day after Seattle signed him to back-fill injured lead back Thomas Rawls -- and 16 days after New Orleans unexpectedly released him. “I’m still trying to get things learned, places learned, the meeting rooms and all that stuff. So we really haven’t gotten in depth considering I just got here on short notice.”
Yet running backs coach Sherman Smith thinks Spiller can contribute right away. As in, Sunday against the Jets, three days after his first Seahawks practice.
“I don’t think it’s unrealistic to expect that,” Smith said. “Last week, Terrence Magee, (signed last week days before he played five snaps against San Francisco, then released this week to make roster room for Spiller) he was almost in the same situation -- basically the same situation. And I guarantee you if he had to play a lot last week he could have.
“It’s just their ability to learn and soak in what we are trying to do, and not to be unrealistic in what we are asking of him. But what we are asking of him, I think he could do it, if we said, ‘Hey, man, we give you a group of plays,’ whatever, he’ll be able to handle it.
“He’s picking stuff up pretty good. Moves pretty good out there. So I think he’s just getting acclimated to what we’re doing.”
His arrival on a minimum contract for the rest of this season underlines how the Seahawks expect Rawls to remain out with a broken bone in his leg for multiple more weeks past next week’s bye. Spiller’s signing could also be an indicator of rookie third-down back C.J. Prosise’s difficulty trying to catch passes with a protective device over a broken bone in his hand that’s kept the third-round pick out of the last two games.
The Seahawks listed Prosise as a full participant in practices Wednesday and Thursday. Prosise was catching passes from Russell Wilson and others in the first 30 minutes of practice Thursday the team permits the media to watch.
Coincidentally, Spiller worked out for the Jets on Tuesday. Now he could be playing against them Sunday.
“It’s not a definite that I’m going to play this week,” he reiterated. “Obviously, you want to, but at the same time you want to be smart considering I haven’t played football in four weeks. So you don’t want to go out there and put yourself in a situation where you hamper your body, we want to be smart.
“If I do go on the trip it would be good to go back. I’m familiar with those guys considering I was with Buffalo for five years. Even though they had some change, some turn over with their personnel they still kind of do the same stuff.”
The Saints made him a healthy inactive for their opener Sept. 11, then released him two days later. He went back to his native South Carolina to work out at Clemson, where he played collegiately, and to be with his 10-year-old daughter Shania there. He said he knew he wasn’t done with football, and was just waiting for the right chance.
After tryouts with the Jets and last week with the Packers, he saw Seattle as the backup to Christine Michael right now as the right chance.
Spiller was Buffalo’s first-round pick in 2010, then eventually replaced Marshawn Lynch as the Bills’ featured back until his injury-filled 2014. Spiller made the Pro Bowl for the 2012 season after rushing for a career-high 1,244 yards.
He ran for more than 3,300 yards with 12 touchdowns in 70 games in his time in Buffalo. He also caught 158 passes for six touchdowns and even returned two kickoffs for TDs.
He, Lynch and Fred Jackson are three ex-Bills lead running backs to be with the Seahawks in the last six years. Spiller said Lynch and Jackson are friends of his, and Jackson specifically told him to sign with the Seahawks.
“I talked to Fred about the situation. He loved his time when he was up here,” Spiller said of Jackson, Seattle’s third-down back in 2015. “He thought that I’d do the same considering that we both were in Buffalo. That was great feedback to get with him and get an understanding of both the team and also the city itself.”
Spilled called the retired Lynch “a great guy. He took me under his wing. Both him and Fred they taught me a lot of things.”
The Seahawks hope they taught Spiller how to be ready to play four days after signing.
“We expect all of our guys to play on every down,” Smith said. “Right now, with C.J., we are probably looking at him in third-down situations.
“No question (he brings) his veteran leadership, his experience. He’s been there. He’s done a lot of things in seven years. So we are going to count on that. Plus, he has a skill level that he can catch the football, he can run. He brings all kind of stuff to us.”
We’ll see if he can bring it already on Sunday.