Jones (coach's decision) is inactive for Sunday's Week 2 tilt against the Eagles, Scott Smith of the Buccaneers' official site reports. Jones will thus spend the first two games of his professional career on the sidelines, a result of both Peyton Barber's clear hold on the No. 1 running back role and Jones' own deficiencies in the preseason. The rookie's next chance to make his NFL debut comes in a Week 3 Monday night matchup against the Steelers.
Jones is listed as the Buccaneers' third running back behind Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers on the initial version of the regular-season depth chart, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The inauspicious start to Jones' career continued Tuesday with the depth-chart release, as his slotting was more or less commensurate with his preseason performance. The rookie second-round pick carried 28 times for 22 yards over four exhibitions, with a two-yard touchdown run in the preseason opener against the Dolphins serving as one of the only positives this summer. How long into the season the initial backfield pecking order endures would seemingly hinge on the pace of Jones' development. The better he performs with whatever opportunities he's presented, the quicker he'll likely surpass Rodgers in playing time, given the gulf in raw talent between the two.
Coach Dirk Koetter said Jones doesn't have any issues with effort or knowledge of the playbook, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "When his runs came up, we didn't block them very well, number one, and he wasn't able to do much with it on his own," Koetter said. "I know from Ronald's standpoint, it's not at all from lack of effort, or from him not knowing what he's doing." Koetter seems to see the same thing as everyone else -- poor vision and decision-making from Jones combined with terrible blocking by the offensive line. The final product was a 28-22-1 rushing line for the rookie in four preseason games, with his lone reception producing more yards (37) than the cumulative total from 28 carries. Meanwhile, Peyton Barber toted the rock 15 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns in three preseason appearances, locking down the lead job for Week 1 in New Orleans. It won't come as any surprise if the Bucs try to get an immediate return on their second-round pick, but we probably shouldn't count on more than a handful of touches for Jones in the season opener.
Jones took 10 carries for four yards and didn't draw any targets in Thursday's preseason game against Jacksonville. Blown up in the backfield for a five-yard loss on the first snap of the game, Jones struggled to get anything going while handling most of the backfield work throughout the first half. He finishes the preseason with a dismal stat line -- 28 carries for 22 yards and a TD -- though he did at least have one highlight with a 37-yard gain on his lone reception. All signs point to Peyton Barber starting and getting most of the carries Week 1 in New Orleans, but it won't come as any surprise if the Bucs find a way to get their rookie second-round pick involved. While clearly part of the problem, Jones did get a raw deal from his offensive line this preseason.
Jones had six carries for seven yards and one reception for 37 yards in Friday's preseason game against the Lions. Peyton Barber got the start and was once again far more effective on the ground, but it wasn't a total lost cause for Jones, who burnt a linebacker to catch a deep pass while split out wide. The rookie reportedly has struggled with drops during training camp, prompting running backs coach Tim Spencer to say earlier this week that there's a reason Jones was only targeted 17 times at USC last season. Though he may be a work in progress, the second-round pick possesses the kind of explosive athleticism that hints at long-term upside in the passing game. Of course, he'll likely have to settle for a change-of-pace role entering Week 1, with Barber likely to get most of the carries and Jacquizz Rodgers or Shaun Wilson handling most passing downs. Charles Sims (knee) is out of the picture, but that probably isn't a significant development for Jones' value, considering Sims might not have made the team even if he'd stayed healthy.
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|11||11/18||@New York Giants||19||16.00|
|12||11/25||San Francisco 49ers||11||13.00|
|14||12/09||New Orleans Saints||3||9.00|
|3 Year Avg||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|