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Speedy RB C.J. Spiller might be resurrecting his career with Chiefs

Assistant coach Eric Bieniemy was talking about the Kansas City Chiefs' running backs after a recent training camp practice when he came to C.J. Spiller, the veteran of the group who was considered to be a long shot to make the roster after signing last winter.

"He shows up to work and he's very humble," Bieniemy said. "He's very attentive. He does a great job of taking notes and then he comes out [to practice] and he works his tail off. He does a great job of showing the young guys how to be a professional.

"The [other] thing I would say is he can still run pretty fast."

That other thing, Spiller's speed, is no small thing. It's why, at training camp, Spiller played his way into consideration for a roster spot.

His effort to make it to the regular season with the Chiefs would get a big boost with a strong showing in Saturday night's preseason game against the Bengals in Cincinnati.

On the Chiefs' running back depth chart, Spencer Ware and rookie Kareem Hunt are Nos. 1 and 2, leaving Charcandrick West and Spiller to compete for the third spot. The third back won't get a lot of work. Most carries will go to Ware and Hunt and some could even go to receivers Tyreek Hill and De'Anthony Thomas when the Chiefs use them out of the backfield.

But a third back could get an occasional chance to contribute, and Spiller offers the Chiefs a couple of things they can't find in any of their other backs. The first is his game-breaking speed, which he has displayed at camp despite being 30, an advanced age for a back.

"I know I've still got some stuff left in the tank," Spiller said.

Spiller is also the only Chiefs back to have rushed for 1,000 yards in a season. Spiller went for 1,244 yards with the Buffalo Bills in 2012, when he also caught 43 passes.

That seems like ancient history now. Spiller's career quickly faltered after his big season with the Bills, and last season he bounced from the Saints to the Seahawks to the Jets, all without distinguishing himself.

He also had some nagging injuries. But now he's healthy and determined to regain the form he once had with the Bills.

"I'm like a horse in the stable that has the blinders on," Spiller said. "There's a reason they have those things on, because they don't want to see the outside, what's around them. That's kind of my mindset that I approached this training camp with. I put the blinders on and I'm just trying to get better at my craft and not worry about what's taking place on the outside."

One more thing in Spiller's favor is the Chiefs' history of resurrecting the careers of running backs since Andy Reid arrived as head coach in 2013. The Chiefs signed Ware two years ago as a reclamation project, much as they found Spiller this year.

The Chiefs career of another back, the late Joe McKnight, wasn't long, just two games in 2014. But McKnight was a star for Kansas City in one of them, catching two touchdown passes in a win over the Miami Dolphins.

That's another reason Spiller might find his way with the Chiefs this season, a prospect he seems comfortable in believing will happen.

"I'm not stressing at all," he said. "I'm enjoying this training camp. This has been one of the [most enjoyable] ones that I've been a part of."