Feb 7, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (28) is congratulated by head coach Bruce Arians (right) after a touchdown run in the third quarter of Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs’ Leonard Fournette almost cut prior to playoffs

Running back Leonard Fournette put forth a postseason performance that likely won’t be soon forgotten by fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Heck, the nickname “Playoff Lenny” entered the sports lexicon after Fournette totaled four touchdowns in four postseason games, including one in Tampa Bay’s 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

That sizzling run wouldn’t have come to fruition, however, had Fournette not accepted his role on the team after fellow back Ronald Jones appeared to take the lead in the backfield.

Fournette reportedly was unhappy after he was inactive for the Buccaneers’ game against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14. Coach Bruce Arians said he had a conversation with the former first-round pick the following day, one that he now shared with the Tampa Bay Times.

“I said, ‘This is your situation. It can change at the drop of a hat,’” Arians said. “But this is your situation. Either embrace it, or you say, ‘Cut me.’ I said, ‘What do you want? Because this is a very special team that you’re part of. I think you’ve got a feeling of that. Just see if you can hang in there to see what happens.’ And he did, and I’m really proud of him.”

Prior to this conversation with Arians, Fournette had 69 rushing attempts for 271 yards and three touchdowns. The 26-year-old also had 28 receptions for 171 yards.

After the talk, Fournette rushed for three touchdowns in the next two regular-season games. He also had 300 rushing yards and three touchdowns to go along with 18 catches for 148 yards and a score in the playoffs.

–Field Level Media

Nov 29, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones (27) runs the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs RB Ronald Jones game-time decision vs. Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones will be a game-time decision for Sunday’s NFC divisional-round clash against the New Orleans Saints, coach Bruce Arians announced.

Arians also said while Jones’ health improved on Friday, Leonard Fournette will get the start versus the host Saints.

Jones (finger/quad) missed Wednesday’s practice before being limited on Thursday.

Jones, 23, was active for Saturday’s wild-card game against the Washington Football Team, however he aggravated a quad injury prior to the contest.

Fournette, 25, rushed 19 times for 93 yards and a touchdown in Tampa Bay’s 31-23 win over Washington.

“He’s a helluva a player, he played really, really well last week and we’ve trusted him all year,” Arians said of Fournette, per the Tampa Bay Times.

Jones led the team in carries (192), rushing yards (978) and rushing touchdowns (seven).

Fournette had 97 rushes for 367 yards and six scores during the regular season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 29, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones (27) runs the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs’ Bruce Arians plays waiting game with Ronald Jones

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians is keeping a positive outlook on running back Ronald Jones.

“‘Ro’ is getting better (but) he did not practice today. I anticipate and hope he can go tomorrow,” Arians said Wednesday.

Jones, 23, was active for Saturday’s wild-card game against the Washington Football Team, however he aggravated a quad injury prior to the contest.

Fellow running back Leonard Fournette stepped up in his absence, rushing 19 times for 93 yards and a touchdown in Tampa Bay’s 31-23 win over Washington.

It’s too early to tell how the carries will be distributed on Sunday when the Buccaneers visit the New Orleans Saints in their NFC divisional round game.

Jones led the team in carries (192), rushing yards (978) and rushing touchdowns (seven).

Fournette, 25, had 97 rushes for 367 yards and six scores as part of the platoon.

“Yeah, I’m good. I’m fresh to be honest,” Fournette said of how he feels at this point of the year. “I think my total carries for this year is around 100 — usually around this time I’m at 300-something to be honest.

“Like I say, ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ I’m just happy to be a part of the team. (I am) doing my job to help the team get to where we want to be and what we want to win.”

LeSean McCoy, 32, returned to practice on Wednesday after missing time with an illness. The veteran would be in line for additional backup work should Jones sit out versus the Saints.

–Field Level Media

Sep 20, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (28) runs the ball against the Carolina Panthers during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs RB Fournette, WR Godwin out vs. Chargers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette and wide receiver Chris Godwin have been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, coach Bruce Arians announced.

Fournette is nursing an ankle injury while Godwin injured his hamstring in the Bucs’ 28-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers last Sunday.

Ronald Jones II, who leads the team in carries (37) and rushing yards (142), likely will see an uptick in workload in the absence of Fournette. LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn would be the primary backups.

Godwin leads the team with 11 receptions for the Buccaneers (2-1), who can rely on Mike Evans and look to Scotty Miller to play a bigger role on Sunday. Miller has been slowed by hip and groin ailments this week.

–Field Level Media

Sep 20, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (28) runs the ball against the Carolina Panthers during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Fournette (ankle) doesn’t practice, likely out for Week 4

Tampa Bay running back Leonard Fournette missed practice again Thursday, and coach Bruce Arians is not optimistic about his chances of playing Sunday.

Fournette spent Thursday doing rehab work on a side field with trainers, according to reports.

Arians told SiriusXMNFL on Wednesday night that he’s not hopeful of having Fournette when the Bucs host the Los Angeles Chargers.

Should Fournette miss the game, LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn would be the primary backups to starter Ronald Jones II (142 rushing yards).

Fournette has 123 yards rushing on 24 carries and two touchdowns in three games with the Bucs.

Wide receivers Chris Godwin (hamstring) and Scotty Miller (hip, groin) also missed practice Thursday. Godwin is expected to miss Sunday’s game. Godwin left the Week 3 win over the Denver Broncos and was immediately ruled out for the rest of the game.

–Field Level Media

Aug 17, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) looks on during training camp at Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs’ Fournette: First time in my life, I really have a QB

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette complimented his new quarterback and likely distanced himself from all of his previous ones with one comment on Tuesday.

“For the first time in my life, I really have a quarterback,” Fournette told reporters Tuesday.

While that’s nice to hear for Tom Brady, one must consider the feelings of current Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew as well as former teammates Blake Bortles, Nick Foles and Cody Kessler.

Admittedly, Minshew is entering just his second season. However, Bortles guided the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game following the 2017 campaign. Heck, Foles was the Super Bowl MVP with the Philadelphia Eagles just weeks later.

Then again, Brady’s resume includes six Super Bowl titles, three NFL MVP awards and 14 Pro Bowl selections among a litany of other honors.

As for Fournette, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians was asked on Tuesday how big of a role the running back would have in the offense during the team’s season opener against the New Orleans Saints.

“He’ll have a solid role in this plan,” Arians said of Sunday’s game. “He’s a very bright guy – (he) picked it up pretty quick today. Obviously, he can’t do everything, but he’ll have a solid role in the plan for the week.”

Fournette, 25, set career-high totals in rushing yards (1,152), receptions (76) and receiving yards (522) in 2019. He was limited to just three rushing touchdowns while routinely facing stacked boxes, however.

Fournette has rushed for 2,631 yards with 17 touchdowns and has 134 catches for 1,009 yards and two scores since being selected by the Jaguars with the fourth overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Nov 3, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Dare Ogunbowale (44) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Tampa Bay 40-34. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Bucs to release RB Ogunbowale, K Gay

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ new additions reportedly have come at a cost for running back Dare Ogunbowale and kicker Matt Gay.

The Buccaneers are expected to release both players after adding running back Leonard Fournette and kicker Ryan Succop, the NFL Network reported Friday.

Ogunbowale, 26, rushed 11 times for 17 yards and two touchdowns and added 35 receptions for 286 yards in 16 games last season. He has spent the past two seasons as a core special teams player after playing in two games with the Washington Football Team in 2017.

Gay, 26, made 27 of 35 field-goal attempts — including 5 of 8 tries from 50-plus yards — last season. He also converted 43 of 48 extra-point tries.

Succop spent the last six seasons with the Tennessee Titans, converting 117 of 140 field-goal attempts (83.6 percent) and 178 of 188 extra-point tries (94.7 percent) in 86 games.

Succop, 33, has made 236 of 287 field-goal attempts (82.2 percent) and 338 of 348 extra-point tries (97.1 percent) in 166 career games with the Kansas City Chiefs (2009-13) and Titans (2014-19).

The addition of Fournette made for a crowded backfield in Tampa Bay.

Fournette had 2,631 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Last year, Fournette amassed 1,152 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 265 carries in 15 games for Jacksonville. He added a career-high 76 receptions for 522 yards.

Ronald Jones and rookies Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Raymond Calais are also part of the backfield with the Buccaneers.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (27) dances during training camp at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Arians says Jones still the starter in Bucs’ backfield

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians reiterated Thursday that Ronald Jones is still the starter in the team’s ever-crowded backfield despite the signing of Leonard Fournette.

Arians said last month that Jones would “carry the load” for the team this season, and that was before the arrival of Fournette, whom the Bucs signed Wednesday.

“It’s his job. Nothing’s changed for him,” Arians said of Jones. “We’ve just added a heck of a piece of insurance and [we’ll] see what kind of role he can cut out,” Arians said. “But RoJo — it’s his job if he wins it or loses it. He’s already got it, so he’s gonna have to screw it up. I don’t see that happening.”

Arians said 32-year-old LeSean McCoy, who has rushed for 11,071 yards in 11 NFL seasons, “is ready for his role” after signing with the team in August.

Tampa Bay also drafted two running backs (Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Raymond Calais) in April. The roster also includes Dare Ogunbowale, who caught 35 passes for 286 yards out of the Bucs’ backfield in 2019.

Jones, who turned 23 last month, led the Bucs in carries (172) and rushing yards (724) and tied for the team lead with six rushing touchdowns in 2019. He added 31 catches for 309 yards in 16 games.

Fournette is expected to practice with the team Tuesday, at the earliest, after completing his physical and COVID-19 testing protocol. Arians said Fournette could possibly play against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1.

“If I know him, he’ll be pretty fast-paced,” Arians said. “So we’ll try to get him up to speed as fast as we can and see if he can have a role for next week.”

Fournette was placed on waivers Monday after the Jacksonville Jaguars failed to trade the No. 4 overall pick from the 2017 draft. Fournette, who was entering the final year of his contract, cleared waivers and became a free agent Tuesday afternoon.

ESPN reported Fournette, 25, filed a grievance against the Jaguars to recoup his $4.17 million base salary.

He had 2,631 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in three seasons with the Jaguars. Last year, Fournette amassed 1,152 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 265 carries in 15 games for Jacksonville. He added a career-high 76 receptions for 522 yards.

–Field Level Media

Oct 13, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) looks on during the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

RB Fournette unclaimed, hits free agency

Leonard Fournette went unclaimed on waivers and is an unrestricted free agent one day after his surprising release from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Fournette was available to be claimed by any NFL team with priority given to teams with the worst records in 2019.

Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said Monday that Fournette was waived because no team was willing to trade for the former No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 draft.

“We couldn’t get anything, a fifth, a sixth, anything. We couldn’t get anything,” Marrone said.

Any team claiming Fournette via waivers would have assumed his existing contract. ESPN reported Tuesday that Fournette has already filed a grievance to recoup the $4.167 million in base salary that the team voided.

By going unclaimed, Fournette could help determine his next destination.

Born in New Orleans, the former LSU standout reportedly has interest in joining the Saints. His availability comes as the Saints attempt to soothe starting running back Alvin Kamara, a holdout hoping for a new contract.

Fournette also reportedly has interest in joining the Kansas City Chiefs.

–Field Level Media