Ronald Jones II will be a "game-time decision" for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the New Orleans Saints in Sunday's NFC Divisional matchup, head coach Bruce Arians said Friday.
Whether or not Jones will be available to play, veteran running back Leonard Fournette will start for the Bucs, Arians explained.
"Ro got better today – he'll be a game-time decision," Arians said following Friday's practice. "But Leonard will start the game, and we'll see how Ro is at full-speed then he'll get his normal reps.
Last week in the Wild Card game vs. the Washington Football Teams, Fournette was tabbed as the starting back while Jones sat on the bench due to a quad injury.
Fournette delivered for Tampa Bay as he rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown while catching four passes for 39 receiving yards.
Following the win over Washington, Fournette admitted it was a surprise to him that he would be starting, but he's aware of the role he plays for the Bucs.
"It was cool, but that’s my job – it’s filling in for 'Ro'," Fournette said this week. "It’s been an up-and-down season for me. I think this year tested my [humility]. Coming from being the whole offense to being a minor piece, it’s off and on for me."
While Fournette did a solid job filling in for Jones last week, Bucs' offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich knows there's a difference in the offense when Jones can play.
“I think he’s one of the better runners of the football in this league when he’s healthy," Leftwich said Thursday. "I think that’s what he is. Any time you don’t have the opportunity to have that type of guy, it’s tough."
In his third season with the Buccaneers, Jones led the team with 978 yards and seven touchdowns.
"Hopefully, we have the opportunity to have him out there, but we’ll see," Leftwich said. "RoJo is a special guy with the football in his hands. The more guys we can have to put their hand in the pile to try to help us win this football game, the better.”