After missing the last two games, running back Ronald Jones II has been activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the Buccaneers announced Tuesday.
Now that he has cleared the league’s COVID-19 protocols, Jones has one more hurdle in the way of a Week 17 return, as he is also dealing with a fractured finger. His activation means that he will be able to rejoin the team for practice on Wednesday, which will give him a chance to prove that he is capable of playing through the finger injury. If he can practice without issues, the team could see him return to the lineup for Sunday’s regular season finale against the Falcons.
If Jones does play on Sunday, he has a chance to become the team’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Doug Martin (2015). The 2018 second-round pick has 900 rushing yards this season, and regardless of whether or not he can go against the Falcons, he has already had a breakout year. He has the seventh-most rushing yards among NFC running backs, and that’s without playing in the last two games.
While the Bucs would surely like to see the third-year running back on the field against Atlanta on Sunday, it isn’t a make-or-break game as far as the playoffs go. Of course, Tampa Bay clinched a postseason berth with its win over Detroit last Saturday, so seeding is all that’s on the line in Week 17. If Jones is unable to suit up without limitations, it may make good sense for the team to simply hold him out and give him another week to prepare for the first round of the playoffs.
We’ll get some clues as to what Jones’ status for Sunday is throughout the week as the team releases its injury reports. Stay tuned...