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TAMPA, Fla. “Despite being on the bench after his second-quarter fumble against the Dallas Cowboys last Thursday night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will start running back Ronald Jones this week against the Atlanta Falcons,” coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday.
Arians also provided additional information about starting cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting being placed on injured reserve after displacing his right elbow Thursday night while trying to make a tackle.
“Right now it can be anything from four [weeks] to the end of the season. We are still looking at some MRI stuff and a different opinion on what to do, if anything, ”Arians said.
As for Jones, Arians said Tuesday: “Red was ready. We started throwing the ball a lot more. But he’s starting this week. He’s ready to roll.”
It was different from what the Arians said on Friday that Jones struggled to regroup mentally after his mistake, which is why Leonard Fournette got most of the work, and Giovani Bernard came in third and in their quick assault. Fournette also got the first pass of the game.
“Ro drove really, really well until the fumble, and then he struggled mentally to get over it,” Arians said Friday. “It was too big a game, and go out there and not be focused, so Lenny got the rest of the way.”
Jones fumbled came with 6:36 to go in the second quarter on a 1-yard run where he was hit by DeMarcus Lawrence who knocked the ball loose, with Randy Gregory making the recovery in Tampa Bay 27. Jones did not see a second snap the rest of the game.
Jones finished with 14 rushing yards on four carries. Fournette had 32 rushing yards on nine carriers. Fournette also had five catches on seven goals for 27 yards, while Bernard had two catches on three goals for 12 yards, both of which came in the fourth quarter.
Jones has struggled to recover from his mistakes, and the Arians have taken various approaches to helping him. He was pulled in 2019 for missing a blitz pickup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But then at the New York Giants in Week 8 last season, Jones had a fumble in the first quarter that was restored at the Tampa Bay 12-yard line. He returned in the third quarter, though Arians said Jones “went in the tank.”
Then at the Carolina Panthers in Week 10 last year, Jones had an opening drive fumble at Tampa Bay 26, but the Arians kept him in the game and Jones finished with a 98-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
In response to a post on his Facebook page on Saturday, Jones said, “I’m always ready to go when my number gets dialed!”