C.J. Spiller, running back and return specialist for the New Orleans Saints had arthroscopic knee surgery on Friday but is expected to play in the regular season opener against the Arizona Cardinals on September 13.
The news was confirmed by ESPN’s Adam Schefter after speculation following a photograph snapped in Pensacola Florida that showed Spiller with a pair of crutches near the office of renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews. Dr. Andrews is also known for aiding Drew Brees in his 2006 shoulder injury.
Spiller did not appear at scrimmage last Friday and missed Tuesday’s training camp practice. Although he was reportedly present, he did not play in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens. While a source has labelled his procedure as “maintenance”, it is still uncertain if this surgery was simply a clean-up or whether it was on account of something more serious.
C.J. Spiller was signed by the Saints to a four-year, $16 million contract in free agency after spending the last five seasons with the Buffalo Bills where he was drafted 9th pick overall in the 2010. He does not have a history of knee injuries. Spiller missed seven games last season after breaking his collarbone but prior to this, has only missed three games because of injury.
Last year during his injury-burdened season, Spiller tied his career low of 3.8 yards per carry but averaged 4.6 yards per carry from 2011-2013. While he only had 78 rushes for 300 yards and 19 catches for 125 yards and 1 TD in 2014, he had 1,703 yards and 8 TDs for a career high in 2012. During his stretch with the Bills, Spiller rushed 668 times for 3,321 yards (or 5,550 all-purpose yards) and 12 TDs.
Spiller is currently listed as the third running back on the Saints’ depth chart. The team can soak up the short term pitfalls of losing Spiller with solid running back depth in Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson. However, the combined loss of runner and receiver Darren Sproles being traded away last year, with the off-season losses of tight ends Kenny Stills and Jimmy Graham and pass-catching running backs Travaris Cadet and Pierre Thomas have created the increased expectation for a new dimension to be added to the offense. It is anticipated that Spiller will play a large role in the Saints passing attack this season.