The situation looked like the Patriots would be facing a team without their two star running backs. That's not necessarily looking like the case anymore as both Jackson and Spiller have an outside shot at playing.
Fred Jackson returned to practice today. The last time the two teams met in Buffalo, Jackson had 161 total yards and a score in a surprising Buffalo upset. He was injured and did not suit up for New England's 49-21 revenge later that season.
Still, there's no guarantee he'll be suiting up Sunday.
BuffaloNews via Rotoworld
Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson wasn't overly pleased with how his right knee responded at practice today.
Jackson, recovering from a sprained knee on opening day, has personally targeted Sunday's game against the New England Patriots for his return. That was considered a fast-track goal, but Jackson practiced this afternoon in hopes he can pull it off.
"There were some things that I liked, but there's a lot of stuff that I've got to work on, too," Jackson said after practice at One Bills Drive. "It's a good thing we've got a week. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully, it will continue to get better. "
How Jackson's injured knee feels Thursday morning will be critical to determining his chances of playing Sunday.
"That's what's going to determine more than anything, what I'm feeling like the next day," Jackson said. "If I can continue to come out here and work, that'll help me get better.
"But if I wake up tomorrow and it's too swollen or too sore to do anything, that's going to set me back."
While Jackson is no guarantee to play on Sunday, Spiller is no guarantee to sit out.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Spiller is healing faster than expected from a sprained shoulder. He could return to practice this week.
It’s unclear whether that means he’d play on Sunday against the Patriots. But no one expected Jackson the play again in September, and right now he’s on track to return.
This opens the outside possibility that the Patriots could go from expecting to face Tashard Choice to having to face the Bills dangerous rushing attack at full strength.
If it's Choice and not Jackson or Spiller playing running back on Sunday, that's obviously a big advantage for the Patriots. Even if they do play, Jackson or Spiller definitely will not be 100% just four days from now.
The Patriots were stout against the run before getting exposed last week vs. the Ravens and Ray Rice - allowing 121 total yards to Ravens running backs. This was after allowing only 125 total rushing yards in the first two weeks.
Whoever the Patriots face at running back, they'll have to play better than that.