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Rob Ryan dazzled by C.J. Spiller's 'special' speed

We ranked the New Orleans Saints as the fourth-best backfield in the NFL because of their depth and versatility.

When healthy, Mark Ingram was among the NFL's most powerful runners last season, while the newly acquired C.J. Spiller is an ideal fit for coach Sean Payton's attack.

The former Bills centerpiece has lined up all over the field for the Saints this offseason, operating from the backfield, in the slot, out wide and also in the return game.

X Player Wants to Return Punts is a weather-worn offseason trope, but New Orleans hasn't shied away from using Spiller that way, giving him snaps at OTAs and minicamp alongside Brandin Cooks, Jairus Byrd, Marcus Murphy, Josh Morgan and Jalen Saunders, per The Times-Picayune.

"He's definitely a return guy that we view (can contribute), whether it's punts or kickoffs," Payton said. "He has experience at that. He's explosive. He's a versatile player and we're going to look to get him the ball in a number of ways, and a returner is certainly one of those ways."

Spiller is on board with the chance to return kicks and punts, telling the newspaper: "It's a huge part of my game," while adding: "I'm comfortable doing it. I'm excited about the opportunity if I get to do it here."

Morgan went out of his way to say that he's "never seen a return tandem like Cooks and Spiller," while Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan gushed over C.J.'s wheels, per, saying: "He's special with his speed. ... He's got home run speed."

NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah told Around The NFL that it "wouldn't shock me at all" if New Orleans was top five in carries with Payton "kind of following the blueprint" of last year's Cowboys. We wouldn't be surprised to see Spiller top Ingram in touches, largely because of what Payton has accomplished before with versatile, pass-catching speed demons like Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush.

"Whatever that number is," Spiller said of his workload, "I'll be ready."

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