“I told them earlier, ‘listen, we’re going to have to start sharing the snaps,’ because I know those guys practice all week or whatever the case may be,” Fournette told reporters on Wednesday, September 28. “I know they want to get their reps in but as my job, I’m trying to prolong my career and help them — get them some snaps and things like that. Their time is going to come, for sure.”
Fournette owns the lion’s share of the carries this season with 57. Rookie Rachaad White has the next most at eight followed by quarterback Tom Brady with six. If Fournette continues at his pace, he will carry the ball 323 times, easily eclipsing his previous career high of 268 carries in his 2017 rookie season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fournette notably hasn’t ever played a full 16 or 17 games in a season during his seven-year career.
“The wear and tear — it’s all about how you train,” Fournette said. “I train my body for this in the offseason, to get prepared for things like this — running the ball, blocking, things like that. I feel like [with] the hard work I’ve put in throughout the summer, it’s not affecting me right now. I feel great.”
Tampa Bay desperately needs Fournette to stay healthy amid his team-best 227 yards rushing, good for 10th in the league. The Bucs only have 31 yards rushing this season from ball carriers not named Fournette.
“It’s all about winning and that’s what I’m trying to do each and every week,” Fournette said.
Opposing Defenses Zero in on Fournette
Defenses have honed in on Fournette since a 21-carry, 127-yard performance against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1. Fournette averaged six yards per carry in that game, but his average dipped to 2.7 yards per attempt against the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers.
“Well, they’ve been making some plays on defense — the holes haven’t really been there for him,” Bucs head coach Todd Bowles told reporters on Wednesday. “He’s been productive doing the little things as far as catching it out of the backfield, picking up blitzes and chipping defensive linemen — but we’ve got to back to running that.”
“When we run the ball, we’re trying to get three or four yards a pop and he’s been effective at that in the first game,” Bowles added. “We’ve just got to get back to it. I don’t think we’re executing at a high level right now and that’s got to change.”
Potential Behind Fournette
Getting more running backs involved could make the difference with White and Ke’Shawn Vaughn possessing different skill sets than Fournette. White, a rookie from Arizona State, impressed during the preseason, and Vaughn showed flashes of brilliance late last season.
“I feel like the coaches are going to find a way to help me out with a lot of the guys coming in — Rachaad and ‘Sneak’ and things like that,” Fournette said. “I try to put my team in the best position to win — if I’m not on the field, on the field, it doesn’t really matter.”