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Report: Buccaneers' Leonard Fournette Likely to Go on IR with Hamstring Injury

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 21, 2021

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is helped off the field after getting hurt against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are "likely" to place running back Leonard Fournette on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Because the Bucs only have three games until the playoffs, an IR designation would rule Fournette out for the remainder of the regular season. Schefter reported he's expected to be back in time for the postseason.

The 26-year-old was knocked out of Sunday's 9-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints after logging 33 snaps. On Monday, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the hamstring issue wasn't considered a "major injury" and that the veteran runner might only miss one or two games.

Fournette is Tampa Bay's leading rusher, going for 812 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. He has also been effective as a pass-catcher, hauling in 69 passes for 454 yards and two scores.

Ahead of the Nov. 2 trade deadline, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians confirmed Ronald Jones II wouldn't be going anywhere despite him having a lesser role in the offense compared to 2020.

"It’s a long season, and just that scenario that happened last year and still with COVID, you can’t have enough good backs," Arians said.

By keeping Jones, the reigning Super Bowl champions don't have to look far to find Fournette's replacement. 

Jones has been effective (337 yards, three touchdowns, 4.7 yards per carry) when presented with opportunities in 2021. The ground game may not see a significant drop with Fournette out of action.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported Tampa Bay is also signing Le'Veon Bell, giving Arians another option out of the backfield.