Sean Payton: C.J. Spiller 'noticeably different' in 2016

Signed to be a dynamic outside complement to power back Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller was a free-agent flop in his first season with New Orleans.

Spiller was unable to recapture pre-injury form following mid-August arthroscopic knee surgery, averaging a career-low 3.1 yards per carry as an afterthought in the Saints' offense.

The team's brain trust has attributed Spiller's disappointing showing to injuries that nagged him all season. Rather than pulling the plug on the experiment, coach Sean Payton expects a bounceback campaign in 2016.

"C.J.'s health and his movement skills look noticeably different," Payton said Thursday, via The Times-Picayune. "He worked his butt off in the offseason to get the strength back in that leg he had his injury. That's been real encouraging."

Spiller has never been a viable between-the-tackles threat. He's best utilized in open space, where he can use his high-speed and lateral agility to make defenders miss.

That elusive, playmaking version of Spiller never resurfaced after going under the knife in training camp. With an offseason to recover, perhaps he'll regain the explosive form behind his gaudy per-carry average of 5.3 yards from 2011 through 2013.

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