It’s been a tough week for Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones. The third-year back, who fractured his pinky finger against Minnesota last Sunday, had surgery on Tuesday to repair the finger.
On Wednesday, Jones was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. At this time, his status for Tampa Bay’s game against the Falcons is uncertain.
Jones has played well for Tampa Bay this season. In 13 games, he has career-highs yards(900), yards per carry(5.0), and tied his career-high with six rushing touchdowns. At this point of the season, Jones has gained the confidence of Tom Brady.
“I think, first of all, we’re all thinking about ‘Ro,'” Brady said about Jones on Thursday. “Obviously, a tough week for him when you have an injury, and then you have something that comes up with COVID. He’s been so reliable, dependable [and] consistent for us. Even in the offseason, his commitment to making improvements to his game, and I think everyone has a great deal of respect for ‘Ro’ and what he’s brought to the team. For a young player, he’s shown a lot of maturity – he’s very selfless. I love when he’s in the backfield with us, and I have a lot of confidence in him.”
Without Jones, Brady will have to depend on Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn, which still gives Brady confidence.
I have a lot of confidence in the other backs,” Brady said. “Leonard [Fournette] has played a lot [and] done a lot of great things, ‘Shady’ (LeSean McCoy) has done a great job, Ke’Shawn [Vaughn] has done a great job when he’s been in there. We have a really talented backfield, and we just have to continue to find ways to use them all so they can all be productive.”
Brady is right. Tampa Bay has a lot of depth at the running back position, which should come in handy if Tampa Bay is without Jones on Sunday and beyond.
On Thursday night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers(3-2) were defeated on the road by the Chicago Bears(4-1) 20-19, but one bright spot in the loss was the play of running back Ronald Jones II.
The 23-year-old Jones had his second straight 100-yard game on Thursday night. Jones rushed for 106 yards on 17 carries, including a 37-yard scamper. With injuries to Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy, Jones has been getting the bulk of the carries for Tampa Bay, and according to Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, Jones is playing at a high level.
“I think RoJo (Ronald Jones II), he’s playing at an extremely high level,” Arians said on Friday. “I still can’t believe he didn’t get his touchdown where he made that catch, but that is the rule that you don’t get the forward progress after they blow the whistle. He’s running the ball well [and] making people miss, [getting to the] second level and making people miss.”
Arians is not the only one happy about Jones’ play. Buccaneers QB Tom Brady was also very complimentary of the third-year running back.
“Yeah, he played great,” Brady said about Jones on Thursday after the loss to Chicago. “Explosive runs and ran hard and took care of the football, and he’s a great runner. He’s just doing a great job for us. It was a short week. We knew there was some contingency, and hoping other guys get healthy, but it just wasn’t the case. He played really hard, and he played great.”
After five games, Jones has 74 carries for 359 yards and one touchdown. The 74 carries are fifth-most in the league and 359 yards is the third-most in the NFL at this stage of the season. Additionally, Jones is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Now, when Fournette and McCoy are healthy, Jones’ workload will probably be reduced, but he’s the number one back for this team, so he’s going to get his touches, and after what we have seen the last two weeks, that’s not a bad thing for the Buccaneers.