BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Running back C.J. Spiller's season in Buffalo isn't over just yet. And the Bills restocked their banged-up offensive backfield by signing Phillip Tanner on Tuesday.
The Bills kept their options open with Spiller by placing him on the reserve injured/designated to return list, a day after he had surgery to repair a collarbone injury. The designation means Spiller would have the chance to resume practicing in six weeks, and return to action two weeks later, when the Bills travel to play Oakland on Dec. 21.
The Bills' only other options were keeping Spiller on the roster or placing him on season-ending injured reserve.
Spiller's long-term future was already uncertain in Buffalo before he was hurt. The 2010 first-round draft pick is completing the final year of his contract, and eligible to become a free agent this offseason.
Spiller and co-starting running back Fred Jackson were hurt in a 17-16 win over Minnesota on Sunday. Jackson is expected to miss four weeks with a groin injury.
Tanner's signing addresses the Bills' depleted depth at running back in preparing to play at the New York Jets (1-6) on Sunday. Buffalo (4-3) was down to third-stringer Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown, who was inactive the first seven weeks, and fullback Frank Summers.
Tanner is listed at 5-foot-10 and 208 pounds, and broke into the NFL in 2011 as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys.
He spent three seasons with Dallas, where he had 56 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns, nine catches for 93 yards in 40 games. Tanner also played a regular role on special teams.
He's also familiar with Bills starting quarterback Kyle Orton, who spent the past two seasons backing up Tony Romo in Dallas.
Spiller posted a series of notes on his Twitter account saying he has faith the Bills will be in playoff contention once he returns.
''But until meantime, I'll be their biggest fan n rooting them on Sunday's and doing everything in my power to make sure that (Dixon) and Bryce Brown will be ready to go,'' he wrote.
Spiller thanked his family and fans for their prayers, and also thanked the hospital staff at Buffalo's Erie County Medical Center, where he had surgery.
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