Wednesday’s signing of running back Leonard Fournette was another splashy move by the Bucs in a series of blockbuster additions in 2020. But just because Fournette is a big name on the roster doesn’t mean that Ronald Jones II’s role will diminish. In fact, he’s still the number one back.
“It’s his job,” said Bruce Arians about Jones on Thursday. “Nothing’s changed for him. We just added a heck of a piece of insurance and see what kind of role he can cut out. It’s his job if he wins it or loses it, and he’s already got it, so he’d have to screw it up. I don’t see that happening.”
That’s a big endorsement to give Jones with all the hype around Fournette. Arians went on to say that Fournette will fit right in, and each running back will have their own role carved out to help the offense, starting with Jones.
“RoJo’s our guy,” Arians said. “Shady’s 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.”
It’s a very crowded running back room now with the addition of Fournette and final roster cuts coming on Saturday. While adding a player of Fournette’s caliber is a positive, it does make it more difficult to configure the roster unless the Bucs keep five running backs.
After Jones and Fournette as the top two backs, LeSean McCoy and Dare Ogunbowale are battling for the third down back, with Ogunbowlae also playing an important role on special teams. That leaves rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who the Bucs would probably not like to cut and run the risk of losing their third-round pick if another team claims him on waivers before he could reach the practice squad. But Vaughn has been the fourth-best back throughout all of camp, and now Fournette should push him even further down the depth chart.
“Anything is possible,” Arians said. “Again, special teams’ roles affect everything. If there’s a fifth back that’s a core special teamer versus a linebacker or tight end that’s not, than yeah, they’re gonna be on the team and active on Sunday. We’ll put all that together in the next 48 hours, cutting day is always a very, very tough time.”