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Buccaneers still leaning on Ronald Jones, will start Sunday

The team hopes to get the running game off the ground against Atlanta.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II did not have the opening night he was hoping for. Besides the fact the fourth-year player out of USC didn’t start the game last Thursday night, Jones fumbled the ball away on just his fourth carry and never saw the field again.

Head coach Bruce Arians said recently that Jones “struggled mentally” following the turnover against the Cowboys. But on Tuesday, Arians showed his support for his young back giving him a vote of confidence for this Sunday’s game against the division rivals Atlanta Falcons saying that Jones is ready and will start.

But Arians isn’t the only member of the Bucs coaching staff that still has faith in Jones. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich didn’t express any concerns for Jones following last week’s victory.

“I’m not worried about ‘Ro’ at all. We’ll continue getting ‘Ro’ the ball and letting ‘Ro’ be ‘Ro,’” Leftwich said. “‘Ro’ is real special running the ball and unique. We understand the talent that he has. It’s never perfect in football. The game doesn’t go that way. Football doesn’t allow it to be perfect. Football also helps in life lessons. It gets tough sometimes and sometimes it’s better for you, but throughout a 17-game season that’s just how it goes. And I think professional athletes know how to handle that.”

Tampa Bay’s running back-by-committee approach worked well for them last season. Both Jones and Leonard Fournette fed off of each other well. The Bucs hope that happens again in 2021 and Jones will have the opportunity to get things going again this week.