Niagara Gazette

Bills

August 1, 2011

Spiller glad Kelly chose Clemson

PITTSFORD — C.J. Spiller knows what it’s like to be the big man on campus at Clemson.

The former Doak Walker finalist rose to stardom during his four-year tenure as a Tiger. While he’s hoping to establish himself as an every-down back for the Buffalo Bills, Spiller’s roots still run deep in Death Valley — which is why he’s excited about the prospects of Clemson recruit and St. Joe’s quarterback Chad Kelly.

“It’s a great addition, a great pickup for (Clemson),” Spiller said Monday at St. John Fisher College. “He’ll definitely be a big success down there.”

Kelly, a former Tonawanda resident who now lives in Wheatfield, went from being known as the nephew of Hall of Famer Jim Kelly to an Elite 11 finalist in a little less than a year at St. Joe’s, but Spiller said it’s important for Kelly to remain level-headed.

“The main thing for a guy like that is he’s going to have a lot of pressure because of his uncle, Jim Kelly,” he said. “The main thing is going down there and getting some wins and help bring a national championship.”

Spiller said he hasn’t talked to Kelly much, aside from brief messages via Twitter. Kelly, the 2010 Tonawanda News Player of the Year, committed to Clemson in late June. He received scholarship offers from other top programs, including Alabama and Florida State.

“When he went on his visit I happened to call coach (Dabo) Swinney and he just happened to be there and he was excited and I was excited for him,” Spiller said.

Spiller continues to be upbeat about his alma mater and would like to see Kelly excel as a Tiger.

“Hopefully it will work out for him,” Spiller said. “He’s a great kid and he’s a winner. He goes out and competes, so when he gets down there, it won’t be any different.”

•••

The Bills suited up for their first padded practice of camp Monday and coach Chan Gailey said he was pleased with the physicality on both sides of the ball.

“I feel like just watching our football team, I think we’re more physical than we were last year,” he said. “I feel more push defensively when I stand on the offense.”

Gailey said the additions of Shawne Merriman and Marcell Dareus surely help, as well as the play of Dwan Edwards, who suffered a season-ending hamstring injury in Week 11 last year. Edwards, Dareus and Kyle Williams were very efficient in 11-on-11 drills Monday, stuffing run plays on several occasions.

“There seems to be more things happening on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage than we had last year,” Gailey said. “It feels that way. That’s the way it felt the first day in pads.”

•••

Buffalo native Domonic Cook hobbled off the field during the afternoon practice. Gailey said he may have tweaked his knee.

“I don’t know what exactly the extent could be,” Gailey said. “They took him in for more examinations. I’ll find out more (Monday night) and (Tuesday) morning.”

While the Bills lost Cook, cornerback Reggie Corner was back on the field after starting camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Corner was active in most drills. Gailey said it was good to get Corner, who emerged as a nickel and dime defender the last two seasons, back on the field.

“We’ll work him in slowly to make sure we’ll smart with him,” he said. “But it looked like he did a pretty good job.”

Third-round pick Kelvin Sheppard missed practice Monday with a hamstring strain sustained Sunday. Sheppard spent all of the afternoon session alongside newly signed Nick Barnett. Sheppard will miss at least a week, Gailey said.

•••

With Eric Wood’s move to center, Andy Levitre has shifted from right guard to fill Wood’s former spot at left guard. Levitre played left and right tackle in Oregon.

Kraig Urbik, who was claimed on waivers a year ago by the Bills, now occupies right guard, while Erik Pears has been penciled in as the starter at right tackle to begin training camp. Pears appeared in two games last season and made his lone start in Week 17 against the New York Jets. Second-year player Ed Wang took snaps with the second-team offense at left tackle.

•••

Ryan Fitzpatrick had an off-night in the afternoon practice on Monday, missing on several deep passes in 11-on-11. He over shot both Lee Evans and Stevie Johnson, one in which Evans had two or three steps on rookie Aaron Williams.

Later on he had Johnson open in the end zone, but safety Jairus Byrd made a sound play to break up the pass.

Contact Tonawanda News sports editor Brandon Koch at 693-1000, ext. 117.

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