The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have officially listed running back Leonard Fournette as doubtful for their Week 12 road clash with the Cleveland Browns, the team announced on Friday.
Fournette has been nursing a hip pointer injury for nearly two weeks now. He suffered the ailment during the fourth quarter of the Buccaneers’ Week 10 win against the Seattle Seahawks.
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There was initial optimism that Fournette would be cleared to play in Week 12. ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted a day after the Buccaneers’ win over Seattle that the veteran running back would “likely” be ready to feature against Cleveland. Even as Tampa Bay is coming off of its bye week, there is still a cloud of doubt regarding Fournette’s status for Week 12.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles provided a glimmer of hope regarding Fournette’s possible availability against the Browns.
“He’s pretty sore – we’ll see how the week goes,” Bowles said. “If he progresses and gets better to where he can run full speed, then he will play – if not, then he won’t.”
Fournette was at the least able to take part in each of the Buccaneers’ three scheduled practices ahead of Week 12, where he wound up being a limited participant in each session. In the case that he ends up being ruled out against the Browns, Bowles will call on Rachaad White to lead the ground game this week, and in the big picture, the first-year Buccaneers head coach is quite confident in the team’s running backs group at this stage in the ongoing campaign.
“Well, you saw what he [Rachaad White] can bring,” Bowles said. “He’s very athletic [and] he gives us a lot – ‘Lenny’ [Fournette] gives us a lot as well. Depending on who gets hot at a certain time, we’ll ride that hand. Right now, we need everybody back there – ‘Sneak’ (Ke’Shawn Vaughn) included with Gio [Bernard] coming back.
“We’ve got guys [that] if they get in the game and they get going pretty [well], we’ll probably leave them in there.”
Overall, the Buccaneers are looking to string together a three-game winning streak for the first time this season.