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Bucs head coach Bruce Arians saw both of his top running backs turn the ball over in the first half of Tampa Bay’s 31-29 win over Dallas in Thursday’s season opener. Yet Leonard Fournette, who started the game, continued to play after his gaffe, while Ronald Jones II, the Bucs’ leading rusher a year ago, was benched for the rest of the game following his fumble.

Arians explained why we didn’t see Jones after his four carries for 14 yards in the first half. The Bucs head coach’s answer was quite revealing.

“Ro was running really, really well until the fumble,” Arians said. “Then he struggled mentally to get over it. That was too big of a game and not be totally focused. So Leonard got the rest of the way.”

Fournette turned the ball over by bobbling a screen pass, which was picked off by opportunistic Dallas cornerback Tre Diggs when the ball fell in his lap. Arians was asked about his running backs’ performance on Thursday night, specifically in the passing game.

“Very average and we drop a screen pass for an interception – we don’t like to throw to backs if we don’t have to,” Arians said. “They are check down people. We don’t bring backs in here to throw them 100 passes. We have enough guys outside to throw 100 passes to.”

Fournette finished with five catches for 27 yards on seven targets and nine carries for 32 yards (3.6 avg.). Third down back Giovani Bernard was targeted three times and had two catches for 12 yards.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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Iowabucfan
9 days ago

I am confident that Rojo is tough enough to overcome this.

1bucfanjeff
9 days ago

I call bullsh!t. BA simply likes Fournette better. Rojo is the better back.

RW
RW
Reply to  1bucfanjeff
9 days ago

Fournette is the better blocker and pass catcher. That’s why he was in there.

NaplesFan2.0
Reply to  RW
9 days ago

Gio is better than Fournette is, at blocking and catching. The stats don’t always support Fournette as the better blocker and pass catcher to Rojo.

compewterpirate
Reply to  1bucfanjeff
9 days ago

Rojo is a better runner, or certainly a better inside runner, but he is not a better blocker or pass catcher.

Dman
Reply to  1bucfanjeff
8 days ago

Completely agree 1buc.

Gatorbait36
9 days ago

Orrrrr….RoJo was in the doghouse and being taught a nationally televised lesson.

Benjamin
8 days ago

I wish B.A. would say less at his press conferences. I don’t see why you would talk about a players mental state to a national audience like that. I get he is the I calls it like I sees it kind of coach but that to me is a low blow and not something you spew out to a national media. He knew the whole football world would report this over and over and over and the talking heads would talk about it.

Dman
8 days ago

Give me a break – an NFL RB that probably has been running the ball since he was 10 struggling mentally with a fumble. Sorry BA, peddle that BS to the snowflakes that believe that garbage. Just man up and say Fournette is your starter.
Other than the catch he made to save an INT when TB made a Winston like pass to the sideline, Lenny looked pathetic. BA just doesn’t like running the ball. If he did RoJo would be his guy. Just trade RoJo for another WR.

DMIbucs98
8 days ago

This is triccy. I don’t really believe Rojo having “mental struggles” is what the case is and IMO, I think BA fumbled here too. There is half truth and half stretch and I’m trying to give context when BA didn’t or at least I hope. Rojo fumbled, ok that happens, Fournette comes in on the next play kind of making seem Rojo is being disciplined, pass deflects of his hands, Interception. BA proceeds to go with Fournette the rest of the game. Also seeing others getting chances(Godwin) and nothing being said or microscoped about there mistakes probably doesn’t sit well.… Read more »

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