In a season that has been full of negative storylines, could the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally be turning a bit of a corner?
It's too early to tell.
But coming off of back-to-back victories for the first time since the season began, there's no denying that the Buccaneers have at least a little bit of momentum as they head to Cleveland to face the Browns next Sunday at 1:00 pm ET.
The bye week is a much-needed break for every player on the roster, but it's especially timely for players such as Antoine Winfield Jr., Julio Jones, and Akiem Hicks, all of whom have missed games recently due to injury.
The same could be said for free agent acquisition, Russell Gage, who has missed multiple games, at various points of the season, due to a nagging hamstring injury. As a result, he hasn't made the sort of impact at the wide receiver position that was expected heading into 2022.
One player who's absence from the team has slid under the radar though is Giovani Bernard. The veteran running back, currently in his second season with the Buccaneers, has only appeared in two games this season due to an ankle injury.
But earlier today, the team announced that Bernard has been designated to return from the injured reserve, and can be added to the active roster at any time over the next three weeks.
Known as a steady third-down specialist, with proven production as a runner, receiver, and blocker, Bernard brings experience, leadership, and a little extra juice to a Tampa Bay backfield that has been one of the worst in the league.
Bernard hasn't made much of an impact during his time as a Buc, but that doesn't mean his skill-set couldn't be of assistance to the current group.
In 9 NFL seasons (7 with the Bengals) Bernard has accounted for 3, 755 rushing yards, 2, 990 receiving yards, and 46 total touchdowns. He's a well rounded player, but it's Bernard's ability to stand up to pressure in pass protection combined with his sure-handedness as a receiver, that give him the best chance at contributing in some capacity this season.
With rookie, Rachaad White, coming off a breakout performance in Munich, and Leonard Fournette motivated to re-establish his reputation as a legitimate bellow running back, it feels like the Bucs' backfield is in the midst of some healthy competition.
Whether or not Gio Bernard is able to find a role within it, will remain to be seen. But there's no doubt that a little more competition amongst the group certainly won't hurt.