Bruce Arians confident Leonard Fournette will fit with Bucs, sticking with Ronald Jones as starter

Ryan Young
·Writer
·3 min read

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers scooped up Leonard Fournette on Wednesday, signing the former No. 4 overall pick after the Jacksonville Jaguars waived him earlier this week.

Despite the signing, which undoubtedly bolsters an already strong offense, coach Bruce Arians said that running back Ronald Jones is still the team’s starter headed into their season-opener, and veteran LeSean McCoy is still the backup.

"When you can get a player of that caliber — I got great reviews from people that know him and who have coached him — he'll fit right in, and we'll see what role happens and how fast it can happen," Arians said, via ESPN. "But RoJo's our guy, Shady [McCoy] is ready for his role, so it's just gonna be building roles as we go along and having enough quality players to finish this thing."

Jones, 23, recorded 724 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 172 carries with the Buccaneers last season, his second in the league.

Fournette reportedly signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the team. The 25-year-old recorded more than 2,600 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns over his first three seasons with the Jaguars, though was sidelined often with injuries, suspended once and deactivated for a game.

The team cut him on Monday after reportedly failing to find a workable trade. Fournette has filed a grievance against the team, too, in order to get the more than $4 million in salary that was voided.

His past issues, however, aren’t something Arians is concerned about.

"Not afraid to give second chances,” Arians said, via ESPN. "The people I trust gave him high, high marks in everything I care about. I can't say what's going on in Jacksonville, but all's I can say is, [with] what's happening in Tampa, he'll fit right in."

Fournette could play right away

Arians isn’t sure when Fournette will be ready to go. He still has to pass COVID-19 testing and protocol before he can start meeting with his new coaches and learn their system.

Fournette having a major role in their season-opener against the New Orleans Saints just isn’t likely. That’ll fall to Jones and McCoy, who the team signed last month.

Still, Arians isn’t ruling out the possibility of Fournette taking the field in Week 1.

"I think [he can play] right away," Arians said, via ESPN. "He's a very bright player, and everything I've heard from the guys coaching him [is] he'll pick it up really quick. We're not gonna force him — we don't have to force him — so we'll just let him get it at his pace. If I know him, he'll be pretty fast-paced. So we'll try to get him up to speed as fast as we can and see if he can have a role for next week."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette
Leonard Fournette signed a one-year deal with the Buccaneers on Wednesday. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

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