The main focus for the Bucs this week in the divisional round is defeating the Saints for the first time in three meetings this season. Whether they’ll have starting running back Ronald Jones II to help do so may become more certain as the week moves along.
Jones was unable to play in the Bucs’ 31-23 Wild Card Round win over Washington last Saturday after testing out his quad injury in warmups. It came as a bit of a surprise that he couldn’t go, but luckily Leonard Fournette stepped up and played his best game as a Buc, recording 132 total yards and a touchdown.
Fast forward to Wednesday and all eyes were on the practice field waiting to see if Jones II would be ready to go. After practice, Bruce Arians gave an update on his progress.
“Ro [Ronald Jones] is getting better,” Arians said. “He did not go today. We anticipate and hope he can go tomorrow.”
Getting your starting running back is always a good sign, especially when Tampa Bay has rushed for 347 yards over their last three games, including 142 in their first postseason match-up.
It’s been a tough two months for Jones, who missed Weeks 13 and 14 while being on the Reserve/COVID list and than fractured his pinky upon his return in Week 15, forcing him to miss the following week.
Jones did come back for the season finale but was used sparingly to protect his finger, getting 12 carries for 78 yards. This put him just 22 yards shy of reaching 1,000 for the first time in his career.
Jones was listed on the injury report during the Super Wild Card week for both a finger and quad injury, but was a full participant all week, which is what made his absence from the game so surprising.
Should Jones not be able to go, the Bucs will have more depth behind Fournette outside of just Ke’Shawn Vaughn as LeSean McCoy was back to practice after an illness caused him to miss the playoff game.