TAMPA — If the Bucs’ running game is going to improve, it likely will have to do so without the club’s leading rusher.
Ronald Jones is unlikely to return from the reserve/COVID-19 list in time for Saturday’s game at Detroit. Coach Bruce Arians on Tuesday called Jones, also dealing with a broken pinkie finger, “doubtful.”
However, left tackle Donovan Smith, who did not play Sunday at Atlanta because he had come into contact with someone who had COVID-19, returned to practice. Cornerback Carlton Davis, who left Sunday’s game with a groin injury, was limited Tuesday.
“(Donovan) came back. He’s full speed,” Arians said. “Ro is going to be doubtful. Getting through the COVID and not having any practice with the finger. We still haven’t seen him with the finger, so we’ll have to wait and see on that one. Carlton is getting better. Hopefully, he can make some progress in the next two days.”
Jones, who leads the Bucs with 900 rushing yards, was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Dec. 16. Players who had a positive test must miss at least 10 days even if they have no symptoms.
In addition, Jones underwent a surgical procedure Dec. 15 to have a pin placed in the pinkie on his left hand.
The Bucs rushed for only 51 yards on 18 carries Sunday, including seven yards on six attempts in the first half.
For the second straight game, the Bucs likely will have to rely on running back Leonard Fournette, who finished with 49 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.