Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has announced that Leonard Fournette will start at the running back position against the New Orleans Saints, while Ronald Jones is a game-time decision. Jones, who recently suffered a quad injury, missed last week's wild-card game against the Washington Football Team.
"Ro, got better today -- he'll be a game-time decision," Arians said after Friday's practice, per ESPN. "But Leonard will start the game, and we'll see how Ro is and full-speed, then he'll get his normal reps."
Even if Jones is able to play, Fournette will start the game as coach Arians has the full belief in the 2017 No. 4 pick. In a 31-23 win over Washington, Fournette rushed 19 times for 93 yards and a touchdown. "He's a hell of a player, and he played really, really well last week," Arians said of Fournette.
"I trusted him all year."
Fournette had to get used to his new role
Fournette, who was taken at No. 4 in the 2017 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, was a starter during his days with the Jaguars and he had to get used to being a backup to Jones.
"At first, I was looking at the bad, by me not getting the ball, but in the end, it's helping my career longevity," Fournette said. Fournette had a chance to sign with teams where he would be the starter and their top running back but he opted to sign with the Buccaneers.
Buccaneers quarterback and six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady personally recruited Fournette after he was released from the Jaguars. "I felt like this was the perfect decision for me," Fournette acknowledged.
"I love it here, to be honest. We have a brotherhood that's going fine right now. We working our tails off each and every day to make each other better." Coach Arians has nothing but good to say of Fournette. "He's been great.
As soon as he got here, we explained what the situation was: 'Your role can change at the drop of a hat,'" Arians said. "Just like it did last week. And, 'Be ready.' And he has. He's practiced hard, he's prepared and I can't say enough about him -- he's a heck of a player, and he's doing a good job."
It remains to be seen if Fournette can have another great performance and help the Buccaneers beat the Saints in the divisional round.