- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 23, 2011

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Fred Jackson will miss the rest of the year with a broken bone in his lower right leg, an injury that could derail Buffalo’s once-promising season.

The team placed Jackson on injured reserve Wednesday, hours after Bills coach Chan Gailey said the running back wouldn’t play Sunday in a pivotal game against the New York Jets.

“That’s disappointing news for our team and certainly for Fred,” Gailey said in a statement released by the team. “He was having a great year. The process for Fred to return to the field would most likely take him through the end of the season, so we have made the difficult decision to place him on injured reserve.”

Jackson’s best season was cut short after he was hurt in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Miami Dolphins. Now, the Bills (5-5) will face the challenge of trying to erase an 11-year playoff drought without their most explosive offensive threat.

“If you’ve got a professional football team that’s in the hunt and I’ve got to go give them some kind of talk to keep them motivated, we’re in trouble,” Gailey said. “My feeling is that if you’ve got a team that is that fragile, you’re in trouble. I believe we have guys that understand about fighting through tough times and fighting through adversity.”

Jackson’s absence is a significant blow to a Bills team that has dropped three straight by a combined score of 106-26.

“It’s tough not having Fred out there on the field,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “We know where his heart is, and where his mind’s going to be … with us.”

Duplicating Jackson’s production will be nearly impossible. Entering the Dolphins game he led the NFL in rushing, and his 1,376 yards from scrimmage through 10 games ranks behind only Chicago’s Matt Forte (1,391).

“He’s Mr. Everything,” Bills receiver David Nelson said.

With Jackson out, the spotlight will be on his backup, second-year running back C.J. Spiller.

Spiller has not been the dynamic threat the Bills envisioned when they selected him with the ninth overall pick in the 2010 draft. He’s carried the ball just 21 times for 115 yards, and made 15 catches for a mere 82 yards this season.

“You’re excited, but at the same time you’re sad because one of our great players on this team is out,” Spiller said. “I’ve got to step up.”

Despite the insertion of Spiller, Gailey said he’s not anticipating a big change in offensive philosophy.

“You’ve got 10 other guys that have been doing things, you can’t change everything they’ve been doing, and you don’t want to,” Gailey said. “You want to let C.J. go in and do what he does best and give him an opportunity to make plays. He gets his chance now. He’s probably looking forward to it and so are we.”

But even with Jackson, the Bills have struggled during a three-game skid that has all but erased the memories of an electrifying 4-1 start. The offense averaged nearly 33 points in the first five games, but hasn’t been close to that type of production since, scoring just 73 points over the last five.

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