TAMPA — Ronald Jones is bigger. But will he be better?
The Bucs running back had a disappointing rookie season, to put it mildly. The second-round pick from Southern Cal rushed for only 44 yards and one touchdown in 2018.
Jones says he has added muscle and is up to 221 pounds from 208 pounds.
“Last year was a disappointment for me,” Jones told a Pro Football Talk reporter at SportsCon 2019 in Dallas. “I’m putting in the work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“I’ve put on a lot of pounds of muscle,’’ Jones added. “I’ve been training with my guy, eating four or five meals a day, protein shakes right after workouts. I’m bigger.’’
Size didn’t appear to be Jones’ problem a year ago. Barely 21 when he arrived to the Bucs, he didn’t seem to have much urgency to produce in practice and preseason games.
The Bucs knew he had a big learning curve when it came to pass protection and route running. It kept him off the field on third down. It made it easy for teams to know what the Bucs were going to do when he entered the game.
First, Jones lost some confidence with the slow start. Worse yet, players and coaches lost confidence in him.
But this off season, Jones has received only raves from the Bucs’ new coaching staff. There has been no contact in practice, however, which makes it difficult to evaluate a player’s progress.
The Bucs drafted Jones to provide explosive runs with his speed. It’s unknown whether the additional pounds will affect his ability to run away from defenders.
Jones will begin training camp as the No. 2 running back behind Peyton Barber, who led the team in rushing with 871 yards and five touchdowns.
“Personally, for me, I just want to lead the team in rushing and be that player who can ignite the offense and things like that, because that’s who I am. I’m a playmaker,” Jones said. “I just want that opportunity.”
Contact Rick Stroud at email@example.com. Follow @NFLStroud.