Arians: Jones ‘main guy’ in Bucs’ deep backfield

Field Level Media

August 05, 2020 at 8:49 pm.

Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said Ronald Jones will “carry the load” in the Buccaneers’ crowded backfield in 2020.

“RoJo is the main guy; he’ll carry the load,” Arians told reporters Wednesday. “All of those other guys are fighting for roles — (for) who goes in second when he gets tired, maybe who is the third-down guy. But they’re all fighting for a role and special teams will have a lot to do with that.”

Jones, who turned 23 on Monday, led the Bucs in carries (172) and rushing yards (724) and tied Peyton Barber for the team lead with six rushing touchdowns in 2019. He added 31 catches for 309 yards in 16 games.

That production followed a disappointing rookie season in which the 2018 second-round draft pick only received 30 offensive touches and produced 77 yards from scrimmage in nine games.

“He improved dramatically from last April to December,” Arians said. “He has shown that he’s the guy. He is a guy with a lot of talent. He is excellent in the screen game. His run-after-catch is good. Just for him — how much can he expand it? But I have all the confidence in the world (in him). He put a lot of time in working out and catching balls to improve his hands in the offseason and it’s showing up already.”

Barber signed with Washington in the offseason, but Tampa Bay drafted two running backs (Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Raymond Calais) in April and signed veteran LeSean McCoy on Monday. The roster also includes Dare Ogunbowale, who caught 35 passes for 286 yards out of the Bucs’ backfield in 2019.

Arians said the 32-year-old McCoy, who has rushed for 11,071 yards in 11 NFL seasons, has already been coaching and helping the younger players.

“LeSean, adding him, he’s a great veteran. He’s a very bright guy,” Arians said. “He’ll find his niche easily. … He’s a heck of a receiver. That’s the one thing that gets me excited having played against him all these years is that he’s a hell of a receiver and he’s still got a very explosive first step. Yeah, I think that will be a big part of it.”