After being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 38th overall pick in 2018, running back Ronald Jones played in nine games that season, started nine of his 16 games in 2019 and essentially became the full-time starter in 2020. Despite being on the field for the team’s first offensive snap for 13 contests last year, he’s now mostly lost the gig to former Jacksonville Jaguars back Leonard Fournette, who signed with Tampa Bay last September.
Although Fournette has looked like somewhat of a workhorse for the Bucs in recent weeks, and Jones has seen no more than six carries or three targets in a game in 2021, head coach Bruce Arians said he has no plans of moving the fourth-year pro.
NFL.com’s Kevin Patra wrote about the topic on Thursday morning.
“No, not at all,” Arians said, per the team’s official transcript. “It’s a long season, and just that scenario that happened last year, and still with COVID — you can’t have enough good players.”
Jones played in 14 regular season games last year, but missed the final two games after testing positive for COVID-19 and later suffered a quad injury before the team’s wild card playoff game against the Washington Football Team. Not only has Jones had to contend with Fournette for playing time this fall, but former Cincinnati Bengals back Giovani Bernard as well.
Through the team’s first six games, Fournette has taken 60.3% of the Bucs’ offensive snaps, Bernard has been at 24% and Jones is at 18.4%.
The NFL trade deadline is Nov. 2 and the Buccaneers again appear to have few, if any, weaknesses. They’ve won three in a row and are 5-1 overall. Behind the ageless Tom Brady, a daunting group of receivers, and a stout rush defense, Tampa Bay looks to be one of the Super Bowl LVI favorites.