Jones rushed 13 times for 53 yards and brought in two of four targets for 20 yards in the Buccaneers' 28-10 win over the Broncos.
A week after Leonard Fournette took center stage and went over the 100-yard mark on the ground, Jones served as the clear lead back, outpacing his teammate by six carries and six touches overall. There was nothing spectacular about Jones' day -- he had a long run of 13 yards on his way to 4.1 yards per rush -- but the USC product encouragingly enjoyed a solid presence in the passing game as well. Through three games, Jones is now averaging 12.1 carries and three targets per contest, numbers that his fantasy managers hope will be exceeded in a Week 4 home matchup against the Chargers.
Jones rushed seven times for 23 yards and a touchdown and brought in both of his targets for four yards in the Buccaneers' 31-17 win over the Panthers on Sunday.
Jones was teed up for a potentially fruitful fantasy day against the Panthers' porous run defense, and accordingly, he opened the scoring with a seven-yard touchdown run with 5:42 remaining in the first quarter. However, the third-year back then saw coach Bruce Arians afford Jones' backfield mate Leonard Fournette plenty of work, leading to the latter posting a 12-103-2 line on the afternoon. Despite Arians' preseason proclamation that Jones was the clear lead back, there was still a certain degree of uncertainty until the games began, and as Week 2 demonstrated, Arians could opt to go with a hot-hand philosophy in his backfield the majority of weeks. Jones will look to make up for a relatively pedestrian Week 2 effort in a tough Week 3 road matchup against the Broncos next Sunday.
Jones carried the ball 17 times for 66 yards and caught two of three targets for 16 yards in Sunday's 34-23 loss to the Saints.
While his overall production wasn't impressive, the key numbers for Jones might have been seven and 19, the combined touches and yards produced by Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy. Fournette could grow into a bigger role as he becomes more familiar with the Bucs' playbook, but if Jones maintains his hold on the No. 1 job, better days will be ahead for the third-year back -- perhaps as soon as Week 2 against a Panthers defense that got gashed for 139 scrimmage yards and three TDs by Josh Jacobs in its opener.
Jones' backfield mate Leonard Fournette is set for a "solid" Week 1 role against the Saints, Scott Smith of the team's official site reports.
Coach Bruce Arians made mention of what a quick study Fournette has proven to be with respect to the playbook since arriving last week, leading him to proclaim the former Jaguar is an important component of the Week 1 gameplan against the Saints. However, Jones is still fully expected to start and outpace his new teammate in carries, although his total workload will naturally be somewhere below what it would have been without Fournette's presence. The fact Arians also noted Fournette's receiving ability and that he partly envisions his new acquisition as a "big third-down back" also bears keeping in mind when assessing Jones' Week 1 outlook, as it's possible the two frequently divide the rushing workload versus New Orleans in a split largely dictated by down and distance.
Jones is listed as the No. 1 running back in the first edition of the Buccaneers' regular-season depth chart released Monday, Scott Smith of the team's official site reports.
The third-year back will therefore start the new season in the same slotting in which he finished 2019, but the competition around him has been upgraded significantly. Gone is the willing but often pedestrian Peyton Barber -- Jones' main rival for carries last season -- and a pair of ultra-talented assets in Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy are now in the fold and slated to see touches in their own right. While McCoy is likely to primarily handle occasional change-of-pace duty and third-down work, Fournette is about as legitimate a competitor for early-down carries as it gets, and rookie third-round pick Ke'Shawn Vaughn is also waiting in the wings. Consequently, Jones naturally will have to produce in every facet each week to retain his current standing.
Coach Bruce Arians said Jones is still "our guy" in the Tampa Bay backfield, suggesting the team added Leonard Fournette to provide depth at a position where "nicks and bruises can really add up," Greg Auman of The Athletic reports.
The words and actions don't really align, as the team first brought in Ke'Shawn Vaughn and LeSean McCoy to compete with Jones during the offseason, and now they're adding Fournette on a one-year, $2 million contract that can go up to $3.5 million with incentives (per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network). Arians claims "nothing has changed" for Jones, but it's pretty clear the Tampa backfield will be messy, with no guarantee Fournette won't eventually emerge with the lead role. What's more, the team is expected to use LeSean McCoy or Dare Ogunbowale for third downs and the two-minute drill, so the target upside for Jones and Fournette appears limited. Jones is still the favorite to start Week 1 at New Orleans, but his workload won't necessarily be satisfying for fantasy managers.
Jones is facing additional backfield competition from Leonard Fournette, who joined the Buccaneers on a one-year contract Wednesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
Jones has put together a strong offseason and appeared to have earned coach Bruce Arians' confidence, but the Buccaneers nonetheless felt it necessary to pursue Fournette once he hit free agency. Arians commented earlier Wednesday that Jones "looks like he can be an all-around back," per Greg Auman of The Athletic, but Fournette's past production (two of three seasons with 1,000-plus rushing yards) surpasses the career-best 724 rushing yards that Jones churned out in 2019. With veteran LeSean McCoy and rookie third-round pick Ke'Shawn Vaughn also both in the mix, Tampa Bay likely will start the season with committee backfield that also includes Dare Ogunbowale as the favorite to handle passing-down work.
Coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday Jones had one bad day of drops but otherwise showcased improved hands and pass blocking throughout training camp, Scott Smith of the Buccaneers' official site reports.
The drop-filled practice got a lot of attention, though things simmered down once it was reported that the Bucs' other running backs also were having issues in the passing game. Jones appears to have cleaned things up over the past couple weeks, with Arians noting that the third-year pro "looks like he can be an all-around back," per Greg Auman of The Athletic. If nothing else, Jones should enter Week 1 as the starter and lead runner, opening his season with a road matchup against a Saints defense that limited running backs to 3.7 yards per carry and 64.9 rushing yards per game in 2019.
Jones (ankle) is taking part in Sunday's practice, donning full pads in the session, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Jones' presence on the field suggests the left ankle sprain he picked up in Friday's scrimmage was only a minor concern. Assuming he enters the regular season healthy, Jones should be slated to start for the Buccaneers after coach Bruce Arians identified the 23-year-old as the team's "main guy" in the backfield in 2020.
Jones hurt his left foot during Friday's practice, but coach Bruce Arians doesn't think it's anything serious, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
James Palmer of NFL Network reports that Jones was walking around after practice, albeit with ice and a wrap over his foot. None of the initial reports hint at a major issue, but we'll start to take notice if Jones is held out of practice over the weekend and into the upcoming week. Any missed time would free up more first-team reps for LeSean McCoy or Ke'Shawn Vaughn.
Jones and the other Bucs running backs continued to struggle with drops Monday morning, Scott Smith of the team's official site reports.
Coach Bruce Arians commented on the backfield pass-catching struggles after Sunday's practice, in which Jones was guilty of at least two drops, per Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times. Smith notes that Jones had an impressive catch in 1-on-1 drills Monday morning, but the general pattern coming from Bucs camp suggests his receiving work has been subpar. It sounds like the other Tampa Bay running backs haven't been much better, with the possible exception of passing-down specialist Dare Ogunbowale. While it increasingly seems unlikely for Jones to take away some of the work that went to Ogunbowale last season, we do have Arians on record referring to RoJo as the "main guy" in his backfield. Jones figures to enter Week 1 as the lead runner, but he'll probably be looking over his shoulder if he doesn't start the season strong.
Jones has impressed as both a runner and receiver in early training camp practices, Carmen Vitali of the Buccaneers' official site reports.
The third-year pro was recently anointed as the clear-cut lead back by coach Bruce Arians, but Jones is doing anything but resting on his laurels. Vitali had previously reported Jones, who spent plenty of time this offseason working on his receiving skills, looked like he had much surer hands while hauling in some throws from Brady in Sunday's no-contact session, and the USC product also ripped off a long run after breaking free up the middle in Monday's padded practice. Jones naturally won't have preseason games this summer with which to cement his hold on the top job, but he may simply need to maintain his current caliber of performance to ensure he heads into a Week 1 matchup against the Saints at the top of the depth chart.
Jones, who entered training camp primed for the lead role in the Buccaneers' remade backfield, has been getting early advice from Tom Brady on pass-catching technique out of the backfield, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports.
Given Brady's extensive track record of success throwing to his backs, Jones is undoubtedly aware of how important it will be for him to take the next step as a receiver this season. To that end, the third-year back has already been absorbing knowledge from Brady, who Jones says has advised him to run his routes low to the ground and "run my routes like I've already got the ball." The USC product is looking to elevate his game another notch as a runner as well after rushing for 724 yards and six touchdowns at 4.2 yards per carry last season, and Laine reports Jones has bulked up to 225 pounds in his quest for more power. Meanwhile, Scott Smith of the team's official site reports Jones has also focused on upping his knowledge of what defenses like to do in certain scenarios, and that he's honed in on learning his blocking assignments better after being pulled out of a game last season for whiffing in pass protection.
Coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday that Jones will be the "main guy" in the Tampa Bay backfield, Scott Smith of the Buccaneers' official site reports.
The competition for carries consists of rookie third-round pick Ke'Shawn Vaughn and 32-year-old LeSean McCoy. The Bucs apparently expect Jones to hold both of them off for the lead role, but the team could still feature a committee backfield of sorts, potentially subbing in Vaughn or McCoy for some carries and Dare Ogunbowale or Raymond Calais in passing-down situations. Jones packed on some weight this offseason to prepare for a larger workload, reportedly getting up to around 225 pounds.
Jones likely will enter Week 1 as a starter, according to ESPN.com's Jenna Laine.
Rookie third-round pick Ke'Shawn Vaughn should still be in the mix for carries, but his shot at the lead role right out of the gate took a big hit after the NFL canceled offseason programs and preseason games. Jones has been preparing for the possibility of a much larger workload in his third NFL season, focusing on his pass-catching skills and bulking up to around 225 pounds. While he should have the initial advantage, Jones could lose ground in a hurry if he fails to impress early in the season. There's also a chance the Tampa backfield fails to provide a reliable fantasy producer altogether, especially if either Dare Ogunbowale or Raymond Calais steals a large chunk of the receiving work.
Jones is up to 225 pounds and has been working diligently with trainer Luke Neal on his pass catching this offseason, Luke Easterling of SI.com reports.
The third-year back has some extra motivation in the form of the Buccaneers' selection of Vanderbilt product Ke'Shawn Vaughn in the third round of April's draft, with the latter certainly a threat to put a dent into Jones' workload. The projected competition aside, Jones was likely to focus on improving his pass-catching acumen this offseason anyhow, considering his limitations in that area last season often kept him off the field on third downs in favor of Dare Ogunbowale. Neal recently posted multiple videos of Jones working on his routes on his Twitter account, including one with the USC product running a deep post and making an impressive catch about 20 yards downfield.
Jones will have competition for carries in the form of rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn, whom the Buccaneers selected in the third round (76th overall pick) Friday night.
Vaughn wrapped up his college career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Vanderbilt, and though he was clearly a tier below the top prospects at his position in this year's draft, he has the talent to push Jones and slide into the role vacated by the departed Peyton Barber. Jones has been the subject of praise on more than one occasion from general manager Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians this offseason, and the selection of Vaughn isn't a referendum on the USC product's standing with the team by any means. In fact, Greg Auman of The Athletic believes the fact Tampa passed on drafting a back in the second round -- when the likes of J.K. Dobbins and Cam Akers were still available -- is a tacit endorsement of Jones. However, both Licht and Arians have also made clear that they're looking to ideally utilize two diverse tailbacks in their base offensive plans. Therefore, much like last season, Jones could find his carries frequently capped in the 15-to-17 range if Vaughn remains healthy and develops as expected.
Both GM Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians remain high on Jones' upside, although that won't preclude them from focusing on the running back position in the upcoming draft, Carmen Vitali of the team's official site reports.
Licht was effusive in his praise of Jones during a Thursday conference call with reporters, noting the team thinks the third-year back "hasn't even scratched the surface of what he can be." That type of sentiment would have been virtually inconceivable with respect to Jones at this time last year, as the USC product was coming off an utterly forgettable rookie season in which he rushed for just 44 yards at a minuscule 1.9 yards per carry. However, Jones made significant strides in 2019, generating a 172-724-6 line on the ground that he complemented with 31 receptions. His work through the air supports the notion Jones is on the path to becoming a legitimate every-down back, but Licht notes the team will enter this year's draft still looking to fortify the position. "We have a lot of faith in Ronald, and in fact, we have more faith in him now that we ever have," Licht said. "But that's another position, as you can tell [when] you look across the league, some of the better teams they have one, two or three guys, sometimes four, that they can rely on in different roles in their offense."
Coach Bruce Arians said the Bucs would "love to have a pass-catching back" to complement Jones in the backfield, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports.
This might be taken as a hint that the Bucs are comfortable with Jones as their lead runner, but it also could be interpreted as a critique of his blocking and receiving skills. The offseason priorities in Tampa Bay were to add Tom Brady and re-sign key players in the defensive front seven, while RB Peyton Barber and WR Breshad Perriman were permitted to leave without much of a challenge. The backfield depth chart now looks paper-thin behind Jones, featuring Dare Ogunbowale, T.J. Logan (thumb) and Aca'Cedric Ware -- a trio with 16 combined NFL carries. Tampa figures to add running backs in the coming weeks, and while that may include an early draft pick, Arians doesn't seem too worried about the position.
General manager Jason Licht said the Buccaneers expect Jones to be even better in 2020, Scott Smith of the Buccaneers' official site reports.
While far from spectacular this past season, Jones undoubtedly took a big step forward from his washout rookie campaign, leading the Tampa backfield in rushing yards (724), yards per carry (4.2), receiving yards (309) and yards per target (7.7). There's potential for a larger workload with Peyton Barber scheduled to become a free agent on the heels of an underwhelming season, but it won't come as any surprise if the Bucs replace the veteran with an early draft pick or superior free agent. Jones likely will have competition for carries in one form or another, plus the Bucs still have passing-down specialist Dare Ogunbowale.
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