Healthy C.J. Spiller looks like a ‘different’ player this year

The New Orleans Saints brought in C.J. Spiller in 2015 to add another weapon to an offense that had suddenly, and ironically, found itself becoming increasingly one-dimensional.

The idea was to use Spiller, an absurdly fast and dynamic back when firing on all cylinders, to open up the ends and take some of the load off Mark Ingram, and perhaps open up some inside passing lanes for one Brandin Cooks.

That, however, did not happen. Like, it really didn’t happen.

Thanks to a knee injury sustained in training camp that required Spiller to have arthroscopic knee procedure right at season’s beginning, the Saints’ would-be spark plug spent most of 2015 on the sideline or puttering about to less than astonishing results. 

Spiller finished the season on the injured reserve with a grand total of 36 carries and two vulture touchdowns. His longest romp out of the backfield went all of 11 yards.

But hark! There is light at this end of the dirge according to Saints head coach Sean Payton, who told the The Times-Picayune‘s Katherine Terrell that Spiller is looking like a new back after entering OTAs Thursday.

"C.J.’s health and his movement skills look noticeably different," Payton said. "He worked his butt off in the offseason to get the strength back in that leg he had his injury. That’s been real encouraging." 

This may or may not encourage Saints fans, many of whom who were calling for Spiller’s head by season’s end. Ever since the Buffalo Bills said they were going to force-feed Spiller the ball "until he throws up," and then didn’t…uh…do that at all…it’s been difficult to trust any positive news regarding the shifty back’s usage or role in the offensive mix. His inconsistency has been his only consistency.

BUT the fact Payton says he’s looking better indicates the team is at least excited enough about his prospects to broach the subject. Otherwise, the comment probably wouldn’t have been made at all.

In any case, proceed with cautious optimism on the Spill. If he can get through this offseason in good shape, the Saints could finally have the additional weapon they’re looking for.

Dan is on Twitter. To Spill, or not to Spill. It is always the question.