It was "a shock" to C.J. Spiller when the New Orleans Saints released him one game into the 2016 season, but the former first-round pick also knew he would have other options to play in the NFL this season. Spiller was patient finding his next home, and after meeting with other teams, he signed with the Seahawks Wednesday, liking what he saw and heard after visiting Seattle earlier in the week.
"I knew that the opportunity would present itself again, but to me it was all about making the right opportunity, not rushing anything," Spiller said prior to his first practice with the Seahawks Thursday afternoon. "Making sure that it would be a great fit, both as a player and also as a person. That's one of the things that I explained to the coaches—of course football stuff is important, but if I walk away from here and I didn't get better as a person, as a man, then it was pointless."
Spiller, a Pro-Bowler with Buffalo in 2012, also talked to former Bills teammate Fred Jackson before signing with the Seahawks, with Jackson providing a positive review of his experience in Seattle last season.
"He loved his time when he was up here. He thought that I'd do the same considering that we both were in Buffalo," Spiller said. "That was great feedback to get with him and get an understanding of both the team and also the city itself."
Spiller, who has been working out at Clemson, where he was an All-American in 2009, doesn't yet know exactly what his role will be this week or beyond, but he's confident he will put in the work required to become an important part of the offense.
"Your work speaks for itself," he said. "I can't sit up here and guarantee anything; I think I would be foolish to do that. I can only go out there work hard, compete at a high level, and do everything the coaches ask me to do. At the end of the day it's still football, go out there and have fun, don't go out there and over think it, don't go out there and try to be a superman. I don't have to do that. I'll go out there and just be who I've always been."
Whether or not Spiller can play this week after just two days of practice remains to be seen, though as running backs coach Sherman Smith noted, the Seahawks did something similar with Terrence Magee last week, signing him to the practice squad Tuesday, then to the 53-man roster Saturday.
"I don't think it's unrealistic to expect (Spiller to play)," Smith said. "Last week Terrence Magee was basically in the same situation, and I guarantee if he had to play a lot last week, he could have. It's just their ability to learn soak in what we're trying to do, and not to be unrealistic in what we're asking of him. But what we're asking him to do, I think he could do if. If we give him a group of plays, he'll be able to handle it."
Following Spiller's first practice with the Seahawks, Smith said, "You can see he's a veteran, he's picking up stuff pretty good, he moves pretty good out there, so I think he's just getting acclimated to what we're doing.
"No question, his veteran leadership, his experience—he's done a lot of things in his seven years—so we're going to count on that. Plus he has a skill level—he can catch the football, he can run, so he can bring a lot of things to us."
Smith said that while they'll expect Spiller, like all of their running backs, to be able to handle any responsibility at that position, he'll likely initially start out playing in a third-down role.
The Seahawks held practice on Thursday at Virginia Mason Athletic Center to prepare for their Week 4 game against the New York Jets.