Bucs Make Change at Starting Running Back vs. Saints

Leonard Fournette

Getty Leonard Fournette sparked the Buccaneers offense in the Wild Card Round and could do more on Sunday at New Orleans.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians will make adjustments at running back for a second week in a row as leading rusher Ronald Jones II’s quad injury remains doubtful.

“Rojo got better today. He will be a game-time decision, but Leonard (Fournette) will start the game,” Arians said in Friday’s press conference.

Fournette, who rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown at Washington, will get his second-straight postseason start. Jones had limited participation in Thursday and Friday’s practices. He sat out the Wild Card game Washington due to his quad injury.

Arians said “we’ll see how Rojo is” on Sunday, and that if he can go “full-speed, then he will get his normal reps.” Jones averaged 13.7 carries and 69.8 yards per game in the regular season amid a deep backfield.

Fournette added depth to that backfield when he signed with the Bucs right before the season after the Jacksonville Jaguars released the former top-five draft pick from LSU. The Bucs also signed former Pro Bowler LeSean McCoy in the offseason.

“He played really, really well last week, and trusted him all year,” Arians said.

Fournette, who was the feature back in Jacksonville, embraced a different role with the Bucs. He rushed for 367 yards and six touchdowns this season.

“As soon as he got here, explained what the situation was,” Arians said. “The role can change at the drop of a hat just like it did last week and be ready.”

Dome Show Rehearsal

Tampa prepped for the Superdome environment by practicing indoors on Friday.

“Get inside, get some turf, get some balls up in the ceiling — that type of thing,” Arians said.

Superdome officials will only allow 3,500 fans into Sunday’s game because of COVID according to NOLA.com’s Amie Just. With or without low numbers of fans, the Saints still enjoyed a strong home-field advantage this season with a 7-2 mark going into the Divisional Round. The only home losses that occurred came against the league’s top-two playoff seeds in Green Bay and Kansas City.

New Orleans hasn’t been invincible at the Superdome in the playoffs, losing to the Minnesota Vikings last year in the Divisional Round and the Los Angeles Rams in the 2018 season playoffs for the NFC Championship game.

Throw the Kitchen Sink?

With Tampa having lost five in a row to the Saints, the Bucs will need it’s “A game” to pull out a win at the Superdome.

Arians doesn’t anticipate getting too fancy or going more “risk it, no biscuit” against the Saints, however.

“You’ll take calculated risks all the time,” Arians said. “This game wouldn’t be any different. I think it will just be normal.”

TB 12 Help

Bucs quarterback Tom Brady brought more than leadership to the field for his new team.

He brought his health and fitness program, TB12, too. The program uses a combination and nutrition and training regimens to improve athletic performance and recovery. Arians confirmed on Friday that TB12 co-found Alex Guerrero works with the players as a consultant.

“He’s here on the premises,” Arians said. “My wife goes to TB12 to do her rehab for her knee surgery (too).”

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