C.J. Spiller didn’t need directions from the airport to the Chiefs’ training facility, or guidance once he got inside the building.
The newest member of the Chiefs required few introductions in the locker room or in the running backs’ meeting room.
The veteran running back is back with the team he spent training camp and the preseason with, and at long last, he may finally see some game action.
The Chiefs’ roster need arose when Charcandrick West left Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers after a hard hit just before halftime. West didn’t practice on Tuesday and is in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
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Spiller was traveling on personal business Sunday and only caught the final five minutes of the Chiefs’ 19-13 loss. Soon after, he heard from his agent.
“He said I could get a call,” Spiller said. “I asked him what was going on because I hadn’t been watching the game. He filled me in, and it went from there.”
Spiller’s status for Thursday’s game at Oakland is uncertain. He has been working out but hasn’t played in a game this season.
“We don’t have anything designated for him right now,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I haven’t ruled anybody out or in yet, so we’ll see how it goes.
“But he does know the plays. If he has to play, you’re confident that he could.”
The Chiefs liked Spiller in training camp when he flashed the speed that made him a Pro Bowler with the Buffalo Bills.
Spiller, 30, rushed for a combined 2,177 yards in 2012 and 2013 but broke his collar bone the next season and missed seven games. He joined the Saints and bounced to the Seahawks and Jets before signing a one-year deal with the Chiefs in February.
The Chiefs’ running-back depth chart at the time was in a state of flux. A few days after signing Spiller, the Chiefs released franchise star Jamaal Charles. Two months later, they drafted Kareem Hunt in the third round.
In training camp, Spiller was part of the running-back group that included returning veterans Spencer Ware and West, plus Hunt.
Hunt starred in camp and Ware tore his ACL in the third preseason game. But the Chiefs decided not to keep Spiller as their third running back.
In all, Spiller was signed by the Chiefs and released by the Chiefs three times for various reasons. This week marks the fourth time the Chiefs have signed him.
“You just handle it like a professional,” Spiller said. “There’s some stuff you can control and some stuff you can’t control. That’s been my mindset since I stepped into this league. That’s what the older guys taught me.
“To sit here and say I wasn’t frustrated, I’d be lying to you. But as you get older in this business, it’s part of it.”
A happy by-product of the inactivity: Spiller got to spent time with his 11-year older daughter at a point in the year when that’s usually not possible.
“I enjoyed life,” Spiller said. “I didn’t stress out.”
But he also didn’t give up on playing football. He worked out at his home in Greenville, S.C., and kept tabs on the Chiefs, who maintain an NFL-best 5-1 record despite Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh.
From his days at camp and watching from a distance, Spiller said he’s admired the work of Hunt, who despite a 21-yard rushing game against the Steelers still leads the NFL with 630 rushing yards.
“You saw those flashes in training camp,” Spiller said. “He’s a powerful runner, hard to bring down, and as the game gets later he picks his play up.”
Spiller said he expects to be ready on Thursday if called upon. Without West, Akeem Hunt moves into the role as the Chiefs’ primary reserve and third-down back.
But after months of practicing with the Chiefs, Spiller could finally get on the field.
“If called upon to go and play, I’ve got to be ready to go,” he said.