C.J. Spiller, NFL’s leading rusher, not worried about Bills starting job

C.J. Spiller leading the NFL in rushing is perhaps the most surprising stat after Week 2.

The Buffalo Bills running back took over the starting reins when Fred Jackson injured his right knee Week 1 and has romped for 292 yards with three touchdowns.

Spiller told NFL Network’s “NFL AM” Monday morning that at the start of the season he couldn’t have imagined he’d be leading the league in rushing — not to mention the early favorite for No. 1 fantasy football pickup.

“I couldn’t have guessed it at all, I mean because we had a great guy coming back off injury that was playing at a high level at the time before his injury,” he said. “It’s been mind-blowing but at the same time it’s been a blessing.

Spiller said he prepared like a starter which has helped him gouge defenses in the first two weeks.

“I thought I’ve had great weeks of preparation leading up to games and everything that I’m doing at practice is pretty much just translating over onto Sundays,” he said.

Averaging  146 yards/game we would think Spiller might have finally cemented his spot as a starter, after being drafted 9th overall by the Bills in 2010.

Spiller, however, isn’t worried about keeping the starting job when Jackson returns.

“That’s not up to me, that’s up to the coaches,” he said.  “I think they do a great job of making sure that we get all our playmakers on the field at the same time. The only thing I can control is going out there and trying to help my team win my right now until we get him back and the rest of it will take care of itself.”

Week 2 ‘First on the Field’ picks: Jets to test Steelers

Wake up with NFL Network ‘s new morning show ”First on the Field” for a two-hour spin around the league every Sunday at 7 a.m. ET all season long. The show’s analysts Melissa StarkSterling SharpeLaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Lombardi make their picks for Week 2:

Bears at Packers
Tomlinson: Packers
Stark: Bears
Sharpe: Packers
Lombardi: Packers

Chiefs at Bills
Tomlinson: Chiefs
Stark: Chiefs
Sharpe: Chiefs
Lombardi: Chiefs

Raiders at Dolphins
Tomlinson: Raiders
Stark: Raiders
Sharpe: Raiders
Lombardi: Raiders

Browns at Bengals
Tomlinson: Bengals
Stark: Bengals
Sharpe: Bengals
Lombardi: Browns

Vikings at Colts
Tomlinson: Vikings
Stark: Vikings
Sharpe: Vikings
Lombardi: Colts

Texans at Jaguars
Tomlinson: Texans
Stark: Texans
Sharpe: Texans
Lombardi: Texans

Saints at Panthers
Tomlinson: Saints
Stark: Saints
Sharpe: Saints
Lombardi: Saints

Cardinals at Patriots
Tomlinson: Patriots
Stark: Patriots
Sharpe: Patriots
Lombardi: Patriots

Buccaneers at Giants
Tomlinson: Giants
Stark: Giants
Sharpe: Giants
Lombardi: Giants

Ravens at Eagles
Tomlinson: Ravens
Stark: Ravens
Sharpe: Ravens
Lombardi: Ravens

Redskins at Rams
Tomlinson: Redskins
Stark: Redskins
Sharpe: Redskins
Lombardi: Redskins

Cowboys at Seahawks
Tomlinson: Cowboys
Stark: Cowboys
Sharpe: Cowboys
Lombardi: Seahawks

Jets at Steelers
Tomlinson: Steelers
Stark: Steelers
Sharpe: Steelers
Lombardi: Steelers

Titans at Chargers
Tomlinson: Chargers
Stark: Chargers
Sharpe: Chargers
Lombardi: Chargers

Lions at 49ers
Tomlinson: 49ers
Stark: 49ers
Sharpe: Lions
Lombardi: 49ers

Broncos at Falcons
Tomlinson: Broncos
Stark: Falcons
Sharpe: Broncos
Lombardi: Broncos

“First on the Field” airs at 7 a.m. ET Sundays on NFL Network and features live reports from game sites and “coast-to-coast” segments with live discussions. Check the NFL Network broadcast schedule for further details.

Vanden Bosch says 49ers have ‘a ton’ of offensive weapons

Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers players are likely hoping to get past Sunday Night’s matchup if for no other reason than the end of answering ‘The Handshake’ questions.

By my count that still gives us about 84 hours to bug them about it.

Lions defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch joined “NFL AM” Thursday morning to discuss the upcoming matchup and followed the parade of players dismissing Handshakegate, Handshakeageddon, Handshake-off or whatever it’s being called today.

“No, I think it’s a lot for the media to talk about,” he said. “Ultimately it will come down to what happens between the whistles, what happens on the field Sunday. Any off-the-fields stuff or any of the stuff going on with the media doesn’t really affect how we prepare for this game.”

KVB did say his defense has a lot to tackle after the 49ers added several offensive weapons in the offseason including wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham.

“They have just a ton of weapons on offense,” Vanden Bosch said.  “They still do a lot of the same things: they are a ball-control offense, they run the ball really well, they are really efficient, they don’t take negative plays on offense. But they also have a lot of receivers and threats to go down the field so we have our hands full on defense, it will be a challenge for us this week.”

Last week, the Lions defense gave up only 250 total yards against the St. Louis Rams and it’s an effort they will need to come close to duplicating in order to steal a road victory.

As it will be this entire season, the Lions’ front four will be instrumental in any successes the Detroit defense demonstrates.

“We have a lot of talent on our front but our defensive tackles were getting inside pressure,” Vanden Bosch said of the team’s four sacks in Week 1. “Once they get more pressure inside it should free up our outside guys, but that is what we are built to do defensively, get after the quarterback, get pressure and get sacks.”

J.J. Watt says he picks up snap count off any game tape

Don’t blame HBO’s “Hard Knocks” for the Miami Dolphins’ 30-10 walloping at the hands of the Houston Texans.

On Tuesday, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt created a buzz after telling NBC Sports he picked up the Dolphins’ snap count from watching “Hard Knocks.

Watt clarified those comments Wednesday morning on “NFL AM,” telling insider Steve Wyche it’s par for the course for defenses to do all they can to get an offense’s snap count.

“I think that is getting taken out of context that is something you can take off about any TV copy of any game tape,” Watt said. “I happen to get it from the show just because they had the microphones out there but you can get that from anywhere.  People are blowing that up to be a bigger story than it needs to be.”

We will go out on a limb: “Hard Knocks” or no “Hard Knocks,” the Dolphins weren’t beating that Texans team Sunday.

Namath: Tebow couldn’t be Jets’ quarterback

Joe Namath said Tuesday night he doesn’t believe Tim Tebow can even be the New York Jets’ stand-in quarterback.

“God forbid something happens to (Mark) Sanchez. See, this is where I’m confused. I don’t think the second guy really is Tebow,” Namath told ESPNNewYork.com.

Broadway Joe reasoned that Tebow still hasn’t shown him enough improvement in his arm motion to prove he is capable of making NFL throws.

“I don’t think he can consistently play the quarterback position as we know it as opposed to the Wildcat without improving his passing accuracy,” Namath said of Tebow. “You’ve got to be more accurate than that today, and Tim’s got a big motion. He’s working on it, and he can improve it. So that remains to be seen.”

We won’t point out to Mr. Namath what Tebow was able to pull off last season in Denver.

On Wednesday’s edition of “NFL AM,” former Pro Bowl cornerback Eric Davis morning equated Tebow with New Orleans Saints backup running back Darren Sproles.

“Sproles may not be your starting running back, but you want him on your team,” Davis said, admitting he agrees with Namath that Tebow isn’t a starting quarterback.  “You know [Sproles] is capable of coming out and making plays in certain packages.”

In August, Namath originally called the Jets’ trade for the highly controversial signal-caller merely “a publicity stunt” and later that the move proved Gang Green was “more interested in headline” than winning a championship.

“You know who I find tends to resent Tebow the most?” asked “NFL AM” analyst Mark Kriegel, who wrote a biography on Namath.  “It’s the great, classically trained quarterbacks. The great, classically trained quarterbacks find him to be almost offensive to the idea of the position.”

While the classically trained Namath continues to berate Tebow’s ability as a passer, Namath has always contended Tebow could run the Wildcat and contribute positively in the locker room, calling him a “plus” for the Jets.

“Because of the guy he is, because of the aura he has around him. His work ethic. His sincerity,” Namath said Tuesday. “You want him as a teammate on your side. You want to find a place to use him. But teams have seen Tim play before — last year — they have to prepare to defend against a certain kind of offense if he’s on the field. It takes up their time. He’s a weapon just being there, let alone getting on the field to help.”

It’s unlikely, then, that Namath would find a problem with Tebow as the punt protector.

Rookie WR Stephen Hill says ‘real’ Jets took field Sunday

New York Jets wide receiver Stephen Hill admitted on “NFL AM” on Monday that he had a small case of the rookie jitters early in Sunday’s 48-28 trampling of the Buffalo Bills.

After scoring one touchdown in the preseason, Gang Green dominated a game that wasn’t even as close as the score indicated and, for one week at least, quieting the concerns over the team’s offensive output.

“The real Jets is what you saw on Sunday,” Hill said. “We knew what we had and we knew what we were going to do, it’s just coach (Tony) Sparano didn’t want to open up certain things.”

Hill led the Jets with five receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns.  New York totaled 384 total yards with quarterback Mark Sanchez throwing for 266 yards on 19-of-27 passing with three touchdowns and an interception.

The rookie wide receiver said his quarterback has handled the media criticism, including the hype over starting punt protector Tim Tebow, in a positive fashion, which was displayed on the field Sunday.

“Sanchez I felt that he dealt with it very well,” Hill said Monday. “I feel like the whole team is dealing with it very well. We really don’t go off of what outsiders say, we just go off of what we do in that locker room and what we do on the field and we just sticking together and the first game went well.”

McNabb on Vick: Just a bad day at the office

Michael Vick will get no relief in Philadelphia after squeaking out a turnover-filled 17-16 victory against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

This morning’s Philadelphia Daily News back page headline, “Here a pick, there a pick…everywhere a Vick Pick,” gives an indication of the type of week it will be for the Eagles’ quarterback.

Former Eagles signal-caller Donovan McNabb knows a thing or two about tough weeks in Philadelphia. He said on “NFL AM” on Monday morning that Sunday’s effort isn’t an indicator of how the season will go for Vick.

“I think it’s just a bad day at the office,” said McNabb, who spent 11 seasons in the City of Brotherly Love. “You look at all throughout the preseason he wasn’t able to get into a rhythm and get his feet up under him, so this was another preseason game for him.”

This “preseason” game counted in the regular season standings, so luckily for Vick the Eagles came out on top.

Vick’s four interceptions were partially a product of attempting 56 passes, McNabb said.

“I think that was just a bad decision overall; I thought they should have ran the ball a little bit more,” he said.  “Shady (LeSean) McCoy did a great job running the ball, with over 120 yards rushing. I think whenever you get put in that position you’ve got to take the ball out of his hands and put it into a guy that is hot. If you are running screens, running the ball or just a shovel pass, do something to try get that confidence for Michael Vick. Continuing to throw and throw and throw when things aren’t going well puts your team in a bad position.”

Vick threw for 317 yards on 29-for-56 passing with two touchdowns to go with his four picks. McNabb said the preparation for next week will be a better indicator for how the season will go for the Eagles’ offense.

“I don’t think it’s a cause for concern. I think the most important thing that we need to focus on is what’s going to happen next week they are playing a tough team with a tough defense next week,” he said. “I think now you go into this game plan, ‘are we going to throw the ball 30-40 times?’ ‘Are we going to try and set up with running the ball now?’ Because I think it’s important to find out the mental makeup of Michael vick this week coming off a four interception game.”

Along with the run game, short, quick passes will help Vick get in rhythm next week against the Baltimore Ravens.

“I think it’s important that Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid do a great job of getting his confidence by doing a three-to-five-step game to get him back on course,” McNabb said.

Week 1 ‘First on the Field’ picks: Peyton Manning’s debut

Wake up with NFL Network ‘s new morning show “First on the Field” for a two-hour spin around the league every Sunday at 7 a.m. ET all season long. The show’s analysts Melissa Stark, Sterling Sharpe, LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Lombardi make their picks for Week 1:

Colts at Bears
Tomlinson: Bears
Stark: Bears
Sharpe: Bears
Lombardi: Colts

Redskins at Saints
Tomlinson: Redskins
Stark: Saints
Sharpe: Saints
Lombardi: Saints

Eagles at Browns
Tomlinson: Eagles
Stark: Eagles
Sharpe: Eagles
Lombardi: Eagles

Patriots at Titans
Tomlinson: Patriots
Stark: Patriots
Sharpe: Patriots
Lombardi: Titans

Bills at Jets
Tomlinson: Jets
Stark: Bills
Sharpe: Bills
Lombardi: Jets

Rams at Lions
Tomlinson: Lions
Stark: Lions
Sharpe: Lions
Lombardi: Lions

Falcons at Chiefs
Tomlinson: Falcons
Stark: Chiefs
Sharpe: Falcons
Lombardi: Falcons

Jaguars at Vikings
Tomlinson: Vikings
Stark: Vikings
Sharpe: Vikings
Lombardi: Jaguars

Dolphins at Texans
Tomlinson: Texans
Stark: Texans
Sharpe: Texans
Lombardi: Texans

49ers at Packers
Tomlinson: Packers
Stark: Packers
Sharpe: Packers
Lombardi: 49ers

Seahawks at Cardinals
Tomlinson: Seahawks
Stark: Seahawks
Sharpe: Seahawks
Lombardi: Seahawks

Panthers at Buccaneers
Tomlinson: Panthers
Stark: Panthers
Sharpe: Panthers
Lombardi: Buccaneers

Steelers at Broncos
Tomlinson: Broncos
Stark: Broncos
Sharpe: Steelers
Lombardi: Steelers

Bengals at Ravens
Tomlinson: Ravens
Stark: Ravens
Sharpe: Ravens
Lombardi: Ravens

Chargers at Raiders
Tomlinson: Chargers
Stark: Chargers
Sharpe: Raiders
Lombardi: Raiders

“First on the Field” airs at 7 a.m. ET Sundays on NFL Network and features live reports from game sites and “coast-to-coast” segments with live discussions. Check the NFL Network broadcast schedule for further details.

Week 1 ‘Playbook’ picks: How will rookie QBs fare in debuts?

“Playbook” analysts Sterling Sharpe, Brian Baldinger and Donovan McNabb make their picks for Week 1:

AFC Playbook: 9 p.m. ET Friday
Dolphins at Texans

Sharpe: Texans
Baldinger: Texans
McNabb: Texans

Falcons at Chiefs
Sharpe: Falcons
Baldinger: Falcons
McNabb: Falcons

Bengals at Ravens
Sharpe: Ravens
Baldinger: Ravens
McNabb: Ravens

Chargers at Raiders
Sharpe: Raiders
Baldinger: Raiders
McNabb: Chargers

Eagles at Browns
Sharpe: Eagles
Baldinger: Eagles
McNabb: Eagles

Patriots at Titans
Sharpe: Patriots
Baldinger: Patriots
McNabb: Patriots

Steelers at Broncos
Sharpe: Steelers
Baldinger: Broncos
McNabb: Steelers

Bills at Jets
Sharpe: Bills
Baldinger: Jets
McNabb: Bills

NFC Playbook: 8 p.m. ET Friday
Redskins at Saints

Sharpe: Saints
Baldinger: Saints
McNabb: Saints

Seahawks at Cardinals
Sharpe: Seahawks
Baldinger: Seahawks
McNabb: Seahawks

Jaguars at Vikings
Sharpe: Vikings
Baldinger: Jaguars
McNabb: Vikings

Panthers at Buccaneers
Sharpe: Panthers
Baldinger: Buccaneers
McNabb: Buccaneers

49ers at Packers
Sharpe: Packers
Baldinger: Packers
McNabb: Packers

Rams at Lions
Sharpe: Lions
Baldinger: Lions
McNabb: Lions

Colts at Bears
Sharpe: Bears
Baldinger: Bears
McNabb: Bears

“Playbook” — the ultimate football Xs and Os show — airs Friday at 8 p.m. ET (NFC) and 9 p.m. ET (AFC) on NFL Network. Check the NFL Network broadcast schedule for further details. Follow “Playbook” on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook.

Bills QB Fitzpatrick says Jets’ Revis is ‘without a doubt’ best cornerback in NFL


The Stevie Johnson-Darrelle Revis Week 1 matchup has gotten more than a few minutes of coverage leading up to the opening weekend.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said he’s also looking forward to the matchup.

“Revis is a great player and the best corner in the league, I think without a doubt, and I think Stevie is a great player as well and so that is a matchup,” he told “NFL AM” on Wednesday morning.

Johnson earned 159 yards with a touchdown in his two meetings against Revis last season, numbers that seems enormous given Darrelle’s stingy nature.

Fitzpatrick said with all the man coverage the Jets will throw at Johnson, he’s going to try to feed his best playmaker the ball as much as possible.

“Every time they go against each other it’s an interesting matchup and you don’t know who is going to get the best of it,” he said. “(The matchup) is one that I like to get my guy the ball and they’re definitely going to be in man-to-man coverage on him so we will see how it goes. “

Ex-Giants WR Toomer says Cowboys’ talk will help Big Blue

Finally! Meaningful football has arrived.

NFL Kickoff 2012 between the Super Bowl champion New York Giants and rival Dallas Cowboys blasts of tonight at 8:30 ET.

Former Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer told “NFL AM” on Wednesday morning that the long wait until game time — especially for a prime-time start — can affect the players’ psyche.

“Having to wait around the whole day getting more and more nervous,” he said. “They got a lot of time to think about it. Worse than that, they have a lot of time for the coaches to add extra meetings and that is the things I hated as a player, those extra, impromptu meetings that would go over the same stuff that we went over the whole week.”

Toomer said all the noise coming from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones this offseason will actually help the Giants dust off any rust and push aside any post-Super Bowl nerves.

“Players, they take all that stuff in and they use it for that extra energy, that extra mental focus that you need,” the Super Bowl-winning wide receiver said. “I think Jerry Jones is just helping the Giants out, because they are the team that needs to fight against complacency. They’re coming off a Super Bowl victory and so giving them extra fire, giving them extra fuel is just playing right into the Giants’ hands.”

Shockingly, the man in the Giants’ Ring of Honor picked the G-Men to win the season opener, 21-17, citing Jason Witten’s questionable status as having a huge impact on the game.

Toomer also took the opportunity to take a shot at his former Giants teammate Michael Starhan, who began his tenure as the co-host on “Live with Kelly and Michael” yesterday.

“Hopefully now that he has all this extra income he’s going to be able to fix that gap between his teeth, he kinda likes it, I don’t know why,” Toomer said.

Zing!

Jennings says RB Benson will be ‘huge’ for Packers offense

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is on record as stating the team’s running game is superfluous to the offense’s success.

“The run has to be good enough to keep them honest, but we’re going to have to throw the football to win games. We’re going to have to run it probably a little bit more than we did last year,” Rodgers told NFL Network in July.  “It starts with the passing game with us and with most teams as well.”

Wide receiver Greg Jennings isn’t so quick to dismiss the importance of the ground game.

“Obviously we need some type of running game,” Jennings said Tuesday morning on “NFL AM.” “Any form of a running game would help us out a huge deal, being that we are so pass-happy at times.”

In six seasons with the Packers, Jennings has compiled 389 catches for 6,171 yards with 49 TDs. He missed the final three games of the 2011 regular season after injuring his left knee in a Week 14 blowout win against the Raiders, keeping him from his fourth straight 1,000-yard season.

From Jennings’ perspective a solid ground game would alleviate some of the coverage schemes defenses throw his way.

“As a receiver you love (passing), but as a receiver you also hate when the defenders are yelling ‘pass, pass, pass’ every single snap,” he said.

Jennings sees the signing of free agent running back Cedric Benson, who is coming off three straight 1000-yard seasons, as a huge boost to the offense.

“What CB will bring to the table will be huge for us,” he said. “He can catch out of the backfield, he can get downhill, he can make guys miss, it will be an exciting year for him.”

Jim Kelly pumped to see Bills D vs. Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow

Rex Ryan isn’t the only one excited to bust out the Wildcat in the New York Jets’ opening weekend game against the Buffalo Bills.

Former Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly joined “NFL AM” on Tuesday morning to promote his book “The Playbook for Dads” and said he was excited to see how the Buffalo defense handles the challenge Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow present.

“I think it’s really going to come down to both of them,” Kelly said. “I think that especially in Week 1 when they play against the Bills, the Bills defense is pretty solid, but I think it’s going to end up not being player-wise, I think it’s coaching.”

The Bills upgraded their defense in the offseason with the additions of defensive end Mario Williams and rookie cornerback Stephon Gilmore and are in a prime position to shut down a Jets offense that sputtered in the preseason.

Kelly believes that the combination of Sanchez and Tebow offers a unique challenge for the Bills, who are looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

“If Sanchez comes in your typical pro-style offense and then what to do when Tim Tebow is in the game, I think is going to dictate the winner and the loser in this football game,” he said.

The Jets guarded the Wildcat game plan in the preseason as if it were the nuclear football, giving the Bills no specifics to prepare for.

“I think early on it’s an advantage for the Jets because they can show things no other team has seen,” he said. “I’m excited to see it. I like Tim Tebow, your prototype NFL quarterback, not quite, but he brings a wrinkle to an offense where it keeps the opposing team doing a lot of guessing, especially early in the season.”

Who will be the best AFC East QB in Week 1?

“AFC Playbook” debuts Friday at 9 p.m. ET on NFL Network.

Who will be the best NFC North QB in week 1?

“NFC Playbook” debuts Friday at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network.

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