Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette was the star of the show during his three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. That changed in Tampa Bay.
Fournette wasn’t in a starring role for most of the 2020 season, playing behind Ronald Jones. During an interview on the Pewter Report Podcast, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians revealed the 26-year-old wasn’t happy with his relatively light workload.
“[I]t was going into the end of the season, and he was unsure of what his role was, or unhappy with what his role was,” Arians said. “We had a walk-through and he was a little bit disinterested. And we had a nice conversation. I said, ‘Look, when you come back on this field, you have 30 seconds to come back here and tell me that you’re all in, or you’re going to ask me to release you. Go inside, call whoever. But you’re not going to sit over there away from everybody. You have a tough decision.'”
Arians added that he understood why Fournette was upset about his role on the team.
“I mean, he had been the guy everywhere he’d ever been his whole life,” Arians said. “And he wasn’t the guy and it was hard for him. And I respected that, but he had to make a decision then and there. Because we weren’t going to have anyone who was pouting going down the stretch. We couldn’t afford it. He came back in 30 minutes and said, ‘Coach, I’m all in’. I said, ‘Great, because we are going to need you’. Then [Ronald Jones] got hurt and Lenny came right to the front and led us all the way.”
Fournette shined after Jones went down. He took over as the Bucs’ top running back in Week 14, and Tampa Bay went 7-0 with him in the starting lineup. In four playoff games, he totaled 448 yards and four touchdowns from scrimmage, including 135 total yards and a score in the Super Bowl.
With Jones still onboard entering the 2021 season, Fournette could revert back to his original role. However, Tom Brady seemed to enjoy working with him. So if the seven-time Super Bowl champion wants him in the starting lineup, you can bet he’ll be there.
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