Tampa Bay Buccaneers leading rusher Ronald Jones II surprisingly didn’t play in the Wild Card game on Saturday due to a groin injury, which may keep him sidelined longer.
“He looked fine Thursday and Friday,” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said in Monday’s press conference about the Wild Card game. “It was sore — I don’t know if it was the plane or whatever, (but) it swelled a little bit. He didn’t feel like he could open up, so he basically didn’t play.”
Arians couldn’t say if Jones will play at New Orleans in the Divisional Round on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“We’ll wait and see,” Arians said.
Jones rushed for 978 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Running back Leonard Fournette filled in for Jones at Washington and ran for 93 yards and a touchdown in the 31-23 Wild Card victory, the first for the Bucs since the Super Bowl-winning 2002 season.
“I thought Leonard played his best game as a (Buccaneer),” Arians said. “They set up that screen perfectly — I was really disappointed in our wide receiver screens because we had a chance for some big, big plays and both of them got tipped. It’s been a work in progress, but Leonard is an excellent screen runner.”
Pro Bowl Blues
Tampa Bay will adjust its offensive line without its Pro Bowl right guard, Arians said in Monday’s press conference.
Alex Cappa, who led in Pro Bowl votes among all NFC right guards, will miss the Saints game due to an ankle fracture. Arians confirmed the news in Monday’s press conference, two days after Cappa injured the ankle in the Bucs’ 31-23 Wild Card playoff win at Washington on Saturday.
Pewter Report broke down the play Cappa’s injury occurred.
“Alex has a fracture, so he’ll be out,” Arians said in the press conference. “Aaron Stinnie will start. He’s done a good job for us, so he’s more than ready to play.”
Stinnie, a third-year guard undrafted from James Madison, played in six regular season games. The former two-time All-American will make his first-ever NFL start per Buccaneers.com’s Scott Smith.
Tampa will get linebacker Devin White and defensive lineman Steven McLendon back for the Saints game after the team activated them on Monday per ESPN’s Jenna Laine. Both missed the past two games while on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
White led the Bucs in sacks with nine and tackles with 140. Kevin Minter filled in well for White, as Arians highlighted.
“He was outstanding (and) did a great job — (he) tipped that ball, and we got an interception, but he’s not Devin,” Arians said in Monday’s press conference. “Bringing Devin’s passion, his energy (and) his speed — hopefully he can get after the quarterback some like he’s been doing so well. You’re bringing back one of the top players in the league.”
McLendon filled in for a star player, too, after a season-ending injury to defensive lineman Vita Vea, Laine noted.