The urge to be “that guy, that ‘it’ factor” is not uncommon in professional athletes. They thrive in a competitive environment and, when they are given a chance to showcase their skills, they want to take full advantage of it. Unfortunately, a chance does not always translate into a performance. The key word here is “always”.
Rookie running back Ronald Jones has only played in three games with the Buccaneers this season. He has only carried the ball 17 times and he has only collected 45 yards in the process. However, he has been limited behind the third year running back, Peyton Barber. He has 74 carries for 260 yards in six games.
Barber did not practice on Wednesday after tweaking his ankle and he was limited in practice on Thursday. Could his potential absence create a new platform for Jones to strut his stuff? Jones certainly seems to have the confidence to step into the main role.
“Yes, I am very prepared,” Jones says to News Channel 8 Sports’ Gabrielle Shirley in the locker room on Thursday.
He says he has been working on his craft by putting in the additional hours.
“Just a lot of studying and the game plan and working with coaches after practice,” says Jones.
He is making the necessary adjustments too.
“I think I have improved a lot, you know, working with Monken after practice, throwing with Jameis after practice, and all that so my hands are there,” Jones says.
After remaining inactive for the first three games of the season, he is now getting a taste of the action.
He admits, “I am starting to get a better feel, more comfortable.”
Jones actually scored the first touchdown of his professional career on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
“Oh yes, I felt good, you know, finally,” says Jones. “It was great. We needed that in that game. It came down to the wire and, you know, every point counts so [I am] just trying to do my job.”
He is only averaging 2.6 yards per carry but he is itching to change that number.
“I won't feel good until I get the monkey off my back with a big, long one but, obviously, I want to be that guy, that ‘it’ factor so I am still working on that but it is going to come,” Jones says with an abundance of determination.
He wants to go on a wild run when he visits the Cincinnati jungle and he could get the chance depending on the health of Barber.
Despite the uncertainty of the situation, Jones is handling it like an experienced professional. His desire to be the “‘it’ factor” is strong but his desire to help his team win is stronger.
“You know,” says Jones, “scoring and putting the team in a position to win, that is what I am here for.”
Well said, rookie, well said.