TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Buccaneers will be without their top running back on Sunday when they take on the Browns.
The team announced Saturday afternoon that they have downgraded Leonard Fournette to ‘out’ for their week 12 game in Cleveland. He was listed as ‘doubtful’ on Friday’s injury report with the hip injury he suffered two weeks ago against the Seahawks.
According to the Bucs, Fournette is not traveling with the team. Fournette has played in all 10 games to this point, accounting for more than half of the team’s carries and rush yards with six total touchdowns.
With Fournette out, the Bucs’ depth chart at running back includes Rachaad White, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard, who was just activated from the injured reserve Saturday afternoon.
Bernard, who was designated to return on Monday, played in the first two games of the season but has not recorded a carry or a catch. He suffered an ankle injury against the Saints in week two and has been on the I.R. for more than two months.
As for Vaughn, he’s played in eight games but only has four carries for six yards and one catch for 11 yards.
This game against the Browns should prove to be a good opportunity for both Vaughn and Bernard to get more reps. In addition, it will also be another chance for White to lead the way in the run game and also contribute in the pass game. White is coming-off a career-best 105 yards on 22 carries against Seattle, in a performance that drew a lot of praise from his coaches.
“I think it was excellent to see him go out there and play an extended number of snaps,” said Bucs Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich. “He played an extended number of snaps—the most snaps he’s played. I don’t know if he was ready for that many early. We saw the gifts that he had early but we knew. We’re here with him every day so we knew that we needed to get him to the point where he could be able to handle that type of load. He’s there now.”
“You saw what he can bring,” said Bucs Head Coach Todd Bowles. “He’s very athletic. He gives us a lot. ‘Lenny’ (Fournette) gives us a lot as well. Depending on who gets hot at a certain time, we’ll ride that hand. Right now, we need everybody back there– ‘Sneak’ (Ke’Shawn Vaughn) included with Gio (Bernard) coming back. We’ve got guys if they get in the game and they get going, we’ll probably leave them in there.”
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady also had positive feedback for his rookie teammate, who’s gained his trust by being able to rise to the occasion when they needed him.
“He’s done a good job,” Brady said. “When he got his opportunities, he really took advantage of it. I think he’s a hard-working guy. He means a lot, cares a lot. He’s got a good skillset in the run game and pass game. He’s done a great job for us and I think just more of what we saw, that’s what we’d all love to see– more of it. Every week we’d love to see that.”