ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The one-two punch in the Buffalo Bills offensive backfield just got knocked out.
Running back C.J. Spiller is out indefinitely — and could miss the rest of the season — after having surgery Monday to repair an injury to his collarbone. And co-starter Fred Jackson revealed during his weekly radio show on Buffalo’s WGR that he could miss up to four weeks with a groin injury.
Both players were hurt about 10 minutes apart in the first half of a 17-16 win over Minnesota on Sunday
The injuries leave Buffalo (4-3) turning to backups Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown to carry the load for the near future.
The Bills play at the New York Jets (1-6) on Sunday before entering their bye week off.
The injuries nearly overshadowed a dramatic victory, in which Kyle Orton capped a 15-play, 80-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins with 1 second left.
Coach Doug Marrone confirmed Spiller had surgery, but declined to discuss the nature of the injury. As for a timetable, Marrone said he’s waiting for doctors to provide a prognosis before determining how much time Spiller might miss.
Marrone noted “all options are on the table,” including placing Spiller on the injured reserve/designated to return list. Under that designation, Spiller wouldn’t be eligible to return until Week 16.
The Bills initially announced Spiller hurt his shoulder before Marrone provided the update on Monday.
Spiller was hurt after a 53-yard run in the second quarter, when he was tripped up from behind and fell hard on his left shoulder along the left sideline. He was carefully loaded into a cart and was in tears while driven off.
The injury has the potential of ending Spiller’s tenure in Buffalo. The Bills 2010 first-round draft pick is completing the final year of his contract, making him eligible to become a free agent this offseason.
Jackson was already in the locker room when Spiller was carted in.
“I didn’t say anything to him. I just kind of gave him a big hug, put my arm around him and told him I was there for him,” Jackson said.
Jackson was hurt in the first quarter, when he felt something pop upon taking a handoff on a third-and-1 play. He took a few steps before falling and then immediately grabbed the inside of his left leg.
Jackson said doctors informed him the pop was a muscle being pulled about a centimeter off the bone.
“It’s typically a four-week injury, but we’ll try to do some things to get it sped up,” Jackson said. “Hopefully, I can get back a lot sooner than that.”
Marrone was not pleased with Jackson going public with his injury and wouldn’t say whether the four-week prognosis is accurate.
Either way, Buffalo’s running-back rotation is going to have an altogether new look.
Dixon, an offseason free-agent addition, is expected to get additional playing time after he had 13 carries for 51 yards against Minnesota. Brown, acquired in a trade with Philadelphia in May, will finally get a chance to play after being listed as inactive through the first seven games.
The Bills also have fullback Frank Summers.
Brown is eager to finally get an opportunity to suit up, though unhappy that it comes because of injuries.
“I reached out to both yesterday and told them I’m praying for a speedy recovery,” Brown said. “I told them, I’m going to go out there and play for them. I’ll do my very best. I don’t want to let those guys down.”
Brown was in a similar position during his rookie season in Philadelphia in 2012, when filled in after injured starter LeSean McCoy.
In his first start, Brown set the Eagles’ single-game rookie rushing record with 178 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He followed that with 169 yards rushing and two more score in becoming the NFL’s fifth rookie since 1960 to rush for 165-plus yards in consecutive games.
In Buffalo, Brown has been the odd-man out because Dixon also fills a role on special teams.
“I know that I can perform and play on this level,” Brown said. “But at the end of the day, I don’t control who’s active and who’s not. And unfortunately it was me. But I don’t really want to focus on that because that’s not really important.”