Bucs Learn Severity of Leonard Fournette’s Injury: Report

Leonard Fournette

Getty Leonard Fournette injured his hamstring against New Orleans on Sunday.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette left Sunday night’s Week 15 game abruptly when he injured his hamstring on a running play.

Things didn’t look promising as the Bucs immediately ruled him out for the game during the 9-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Fortunately for the Bucs, Fournette didn’t severely injure his hamstring according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Monday, December 20.

Rapoport added that Fournette “may miss some time, a game or two, but not a major injury.” Fournette came into the game dealing with an ankle injury. He also injured his hamstring twice previously in 2018.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Mike Evans should make a quicker recovery from his hamstring injury on Sunday against the Saints. Rapoport reported that Evans’ hamstring “should be OK, nothing major.”

That’s all better news than wide receiver Chris Godwin missing the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, which Rapoport reported on Monday afternoon.

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Life Without Lenny?

Fournette produced one of the more promising performances for the Bucs amid a dismal shutout loss on Sunday before he exited the game. He tallied 34 yards rushing on nine attempts and 33 yards receiving on seven receptions.

Missing Fournette will hurt both the Bucs’ running and passing attack. He emerged as the go-to back this season with 812 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground in addition to 69 receptions for 454 yards and two touchdowns.

Ronald Jones II stepped in place of Fournette on Sunday with 63 yards on eight carries. Jones looked promising on a 30-yard burst, but he left the game shortly after his cameo appearance.

“It’s just a matter of him getting gassed real quick,” Arians told the media on Sunday.

Jones has 337 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 71 carries this season. He faded into the second running back spot early on and hasn’t carried the ball more than 10 times in a game once this season.

His carries will likely increase for the next week or two with Fournette out. Jones says he’ll be ready.

“Most definitely. Always ready when the number’s called, so just making the most of opportunities,” Jones told the media.

Jones notably produced well in Fournette’s absence last season with three 100-yard games and three touchdowns in four games, per ESPN’s Mike Clay.

Bucs’ Bleak Receiver Reinforcements

Nothing on the Bucs roster will fill the void left by Evans and Godwin — not even Antonio Brown returning.

Brown may need to return slowly after missing 10 weeks of action due to an ankle injury followed by a three-game suspension. Greg Auman of The Athletic noted that Brown hasn’t practiced a lot and being in shape versus football shape are two different things.

“Go from zero for two months to 60 snaps in one week, you’re risking another injury,” Auman wrote on Twitter. “They’ll be careful.”

Besides Brown, the Bucs have three other receivers with significant snaps who haven’t produced a touchdown this season: Tyler Johnson, Jaelon Darden, and Scotty Miller. The Bucs could get its most promising receiver, Breshad Perriman, back from COVID-19 protocols after missing Sunday’s game.

Perriman caught a 58-yard touchdown from Brady on Dec. 12 to beat the Buffalo Bills in overtime. As Auman noted, Perriman stepped up in place of Evans and Godwin before in 2019.

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