ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller has finally settled on hiring an agent to handle his off-field needs entering the final year of his contract.
That should free up Spiller to concentrate on taking care of his on-field business, which will include opening the season at Chicago on Sunday with the added responsibility of returning kickoffs.
Whatever it takes, said Spiller, who is eager to reprise a role he excelled at during his college days at Clemson.
''It's second-nature really,'' he said this week. ''It's not like I'm stepping into something that's brand new.''
Spiller tied an NCAA career record by returning eight kickoffs for touchdowns, including four as a senior in 2009.
He's getting the nod in Buffalo because coach Doug Marrone doesn't want to risk his two top returners - rookie Sammy Watkins (ribs) and Marquise Goodwin (neck, hamstring) - aggravating existing injuries.
''C.J.'s the best guy we've got back there,'' said Marrone, who prepared for the possibility of using Spiller on special teams this preseason. Spiller had a 42-yard return in a 19-16 preseason loss at Pittsburgh on Aug. 16.
The timing is ideal for a player seeking to make a case to prove his value.
Last weekend, Spiller announced he hired agent Chad Speck to represent him. Speck replaces Spiller's former agent, Gary Wichard, who died in 2011.
Spiller didn't see the need to hire new representation until this year, because he was already locked in with a five-year contract.
Though the Bills have already contacted Speck, formal negotiations aren't expected to begin until later this season.
Spiller doesn't expect his uncertain status to become a distraction.
''I'm not going into the season worrying about my contract situation,'' Spiller said. ''I'm looking forward to those guys trying to work something out that both parties can be happy with.''
Spiller has yet to consistently play to the dynamic potential the Bills projected in selecting him with the No. 9 pick in the 2010 draft. After enjoying a breakout season in 2012 in which Spiller finished second in the NFL by averaging 6 yards per carry, his production dropped last year because of a nagging ankle injury.
He led the Bills with 927 yards rushing, but averaged 4.6 yards per carry and scored just two touchdowns.
The Bills have already made contingency plans at running back in the event Spiller doesn't return next season.
Last month, veteran Fred Jackson signed a contract extension that secures him through next year. They also made a trade in May to acquire Bryce Brown, who is signed through 2015.
Spiller remains the starter, returns healthy and is expected to play a key role in Buffalo's offense as both a runner and receiver.
''I know what I've put on film. I know what my value is. And I'm not going to let anyone degrade that,'' Spiller said. ''My focus is to try to put our team in the best situation I can so we can be successful.''
He also isn't worried the added duties returning kickoffs will wear him down.
''I'm young,'' the 27-year-old Spiller said. ''I've got a long while before I'll be having some wear and tear.''
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