If there’s one player on offense that’s really turning heads this training camp for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it’s second-year running back Ronald Jones.
The former University of Southern California tailback was a disappointment in Year 1 in Tampa Bay, as Jones rushed for a mere 44 yards on 23 carries and caught seven passes for 33 yards. 77 yards of total offense wasn’t exactly what the Buccaneers thought they would’ve been getting in the explosive product from Southern Cal.
Jones has made it a point to come back stronger this off-season, as he is currently battling last year’s starting running back, Peyton Barber, for the No. 1 position on the depth chart and he’s made his presence be known and head coach Bruce Arians has taken notice.
Arians has long been an offensive mind that likes his running backs catching the ball out of the backfield that falls in line with Jones’ strength coming out of USC. Jones was a 1,000-yard rusher with the Trojans, but also had the ability to catch passes out of the slot and from the backfield on swing passes.
Some of the points of emphasis with Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback Jameis Winston is getting the ball out of his hand and into the hands of playmakers like Jones, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Many believe that will help cut down on the amount of turnovers Winston had while playing in Dirk Koetter’s offense.
Winston threw 14 interceptions in 2018 and some of those miscues could have been averted if the fifth-year starter looked towards checking down and now with Jones now becoming a viable target out of the backfield, the former’s decision making should become easier in the process.
The Buccaneers open up the 2019 preseason on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. The NFL preseason kicked off last night, with the Denver Broncos edging the Atlanta Falcons 14-10 in the Hall of Fame Game.
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