A year after his captivating postseason performance that spawned a smorgasbord of nicknames, Bucs tailback Leonard Fournette appears ready for his encore.
Fournette — A.K.A. “Playoff Lenny” and “Lombardi Lenny” — was activated from injured reserve Saturday and is eligible to play in Sunday’s NFC division playoff against the Rams after missing the past four games with a hamstring injury.
To make room for him on the roster, the team released veteran tailback Le’Veon Bell, who signed in December. Bell had eight carries for 18 yards, and four catches for 31 yards and a touchdown, in three contests.
Additionally, the team elevated No. 3 quarterback Ryan Griffin and 31-year-old receiver John Brown from the practice squad, meaning Brown — who has 27 career playoff receptions — could make his Bucs debut if activated for the game. Brown’s elevation likely signals that speedster Cyril Grayson (hamstring) still isn’t ready.
The elevation of Griffin is believed to be a reward of sorts for the 32-year-old career reserve, who has appeared in only two games in his five seasons in Tampa.
How extensively Fournette, 27, will be used remains unclear, but coach Bruce Arians indicated Friday he has experienced no setbacks in practice this week and “looks fine.”
An every-down back, Fournette has become one of Tom Brady’s most trusted targets in the short passing game. Despite missing the final three regular-season contests, Fournette still led the Bucs in rushing (812 yards, eight touchdowns) and ranked third in receptions (69) in the regular season.
The performance has stood in glaring contrast to 2020, when Fournette’s disillusionment in his first year with the team nearly led to his release. But he seized his opportunity in the playoffs when Ronald Jones was sidelined and re-ignited his career, totaling 300 rushing yards, 148 receiving yards and four touchdowns in four postseason games.
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.
• • •
Sign up for the Bucs RedZone newsletter to get updates and analysis on the latest team and NFL news from Bucs beat writer Joey Knight.