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Bills go four deep at running back, but Doug Marrone plans on using two

The Buffalo Bills have four running backs with NFL credentials.

Coach Doug Marrone, however, would prefer to use two of them when the regular season arrives in September.

"I don't know if I want to get it down to three," Marrone said Wednesday when asked specifically about how C.J. Spiller fits into a backfield with three backs. "I've never been a guy that has three backs playing in the game. I’ve always believed, and you guys know, in the two backs. It’ll come down to two backs."

In that scenario, the favorites to see the most work are Spiller and Fred Jackson. If both of them stay healthy -- which didn't happen last season -- that could mean minimal carries for Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon, the two offseason additions.

"Obviously, we’ve run the ball quite a bit. It’s something that we believe in and I’m really excited to see them," Marrone said.

On the surface, the Bills have a surplus at the position. But as was seen last year, running backs take a pounding. Having quality depth isn't a bad thing.

The Bills shouldn't be in a hurry to get rid of it. Spiller is entering the final year of his contract, meaning the team needs to be prepared for 2015, and his value to another team in regards to a potential trade is lessened.

Given the Bills' playoffs-or-bust approach, such a deal -- were it to be for draft-pick compensation -- would be of no help this season and thus a bad idea.

"I don’t really pay any attention to that. I’m a Buffalo Bill through and through. I love this place, this organization loves me. I’m here until further notice," Spiller said this week, again addressing any trade rumors with his name attached. "I’ve had some good conversations with Russ Brandon and Doug Whaley. One thing I’ve learned is that you can’t believe everything out there and I don’t. I don’t pay any attention to that, the only time I hear about it is from one of my family members or one of my friends. I’m not going out there seeking it, trying to find it. I love this place, I love being here in Buffalo, I love the people. Just to see the reception that Andre Reed got at the Hall of Fame, that’s the only thing I’m worried about, coming out here and getting ready with my teammates, getting ready for Sept. 7 against the Chicago Bears."

One way the Bills could get Spiller involved more is through the passing game. He told The News earlier in camp he hopes to have an expanded role in that regard.

"Coach Hackett has been spending a lot of time this offseason and this camp trying to put things together," Spiller said, referring to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. "I'm very comfortable catching the ball. That's something that just naturally happens with me."

Marrone has noticed.

"I think what we’re looking for from him is as a running back, but what you’ve seen is that we’ve expanded his role also. We have him in some pass receiving situations and I give C.J. credit. I think he’s been outstanding in catching the football," the coach said.

So how much will Spiller touch the ball in the remaining four seasons? That's something Marrone is working on.

"One of the challenges is how many carries does he need between now and the end of preseason to be ready for the season? That’s a challenge for a lot of guys that have played before and have played well," he said.

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