It’s been an odd year for Bucs running back Giovani Bernard. The veteran was brought in to be the Bucs’ third down back, but the emergence of Leonard Fournette as an every down back diminished Bernard’s role. Then the longtime Bengal was injured twice, the most recent of which caused him to miss four games.

But when the Bucs needed him the most, Bernard returned with a vengeance. On Sunday the Bucs running back was clutch, rushing 13 times for 44 yards and catching five passes for 39 yards. And he did it all without being 100 percent, according to head coach Bruce Arians on Bucs Total Access.

“I’ve been watching him work so hard to get back,” Arians said. “Conditioning wasn’t going to be an issue for him, because he’s been working. It’s just whether or not he could hold up. Like I said, band-aids and duct tape with him. He had so much tape on his legs it was like the mummy in practice all week. He’s a warhorse, man. He’s a tough, veteran guy.”

Bernard scored as well, tallying his first rushing touchdown of the season. Entering Sunday’s game, the 29-year old had carried the ball just eight times all year. Against the Eagles, Bernard made every opportunity count.

“It was a good goal line run,” Arians said. “We had great blocking. Tom [Brady] did a good job of putting us in the right play.”

Bernard’s 18 touches for 83 yards paced the Bucs’ backfield. Few plays were spectacular, but several were very important. Bernard consistently maximized his opportunities, coming up with some clutch catches and making the most of a few tough runs.

“We knew he was a solid runner and a good receiver,” Arians said about signing Bernard in the offseason. “Five catches, the big play on the screen. Those were huge plays. The big third down (near) the last play of the game. Just all-around heck of a football player, and a really quality person.”

You can listen to the awesome entirety of Bucs Total Access right here.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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Spitfire
Spitfire
4 months ago

I still think they should give Bernard more of a chance with his catching and blocking skills, he can still manage yards on the ground. As well as Bell, Bell can catch and Block and also push for yards that should be as many or more than Vaughn. With both those guys out there I would imagine the Rams or anyone after would have to respect both the run and the Pass while also providing protection. I’d like to see us mix the two of them in there more along with 2 TE sets to help the line and make… Read more »

Eddie
Eddie
Reply to  Spitfire
4 months ago

Agreed. Bernard was drafted to be the pass catching back for Brady. He was drafted after James White, last pass catching RB, decided to stay in New England.

fredster
fredster
4 months ago

Loved the stiff arm little Bernard gave. Good stuff

drdneast
drdneast
4 months ago

Gio has definitely improved the RB room over last year. I forgot the name of the veteran back we had in there last year who hardly did a thing except drop a TD pass early in the season.

Joseph
Joseph
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

LeSean McCoy