Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette took advantage of a quad injury to starting RB Ronald Jones to showcase his talent during Tampa Bay’s playoff run to the Super Bowl, In four games, Fournette rushed 64 times for 300 yards and three touchdowns, earning the self-proclaimed nicknames “Playoff Lenny” and “Lombardi Lenny.” But Fournette nearly didn’t stick around to make that happen, as he was chafing at not being the lead back and was made inactive for a Week 14 win against the Vikings. Buccaneers HC Bruce Arians essentially told him he could get on board or get off the ship.
“I said, ‘This is your situation. It can change at the drop of a hat,'” Arians said via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “But this is your situation. Either embrace it, or you say, ‘Cut me.’ I said, ‘What do you want? Because this is a very special team that you’re part of. I think you’ve got a feeling of that. Just see if you can hang in there to see what happens.’ And he did, and I’m really proud of him.”
- NBC Sports’ Peter King notes the Buccaneers’ hire of assistant WR coach Thaddeus Lewis is another step to potentially have the infrastructure in place to re-sign WR Antonio Brown. Lewis was a childhood friend of Brown’s.
- Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones will have the pin removed from his broken left pinky finger that he had inserted in December. (Stroud)
- Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer notes the strong presence by the Falcons at Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence‘s pro day — including HC Arthur Smith, GM Terry Fontenot, OC Dave Ragone and VP of player personnel Kyle Smith — isn’t an indicator that Atlanta will try to trade up for Lawrence. But it does show that the Falcons are doing a lot of work on the quarterbacks in this class given they have the No. 4 overall pick.
- The Athletic’s Joe Person writes Panthers CB Donte Jackson earned a lot of points with the coaching staff for how he gutted through a turf toe injury in 2020. He adds Jackson could have put himself in the conversation for an extension, though that’s currently way down the list of priorities for Carolina.
- Person notes his sense is the Panthers want to give their younger options at cornerback like Troy Pride, Stantley Thomas-Oliver and Myles Hartsfield a chance to develop and prove themselves, but they also plan to bring in more depth and competition.
- Regarding Alabama QB Mac Jones who the Panthers saw firsthand at the Senior Bowl, Person thinks he’s not really high on their board as they look at their quarterback position this offseason. For one, he’s a more limited prospect in the same mold as current starter Teddy Bridgewater.
- Secondly, Panthers HC Matt Rhule talked about Jones glowingly all week at the Senior Bowl but Person theorizes if Rhule really was high on Jones, he would have played his cards a little closer to the vest.