Le’Veon Bell signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with running back injuries piling up for the Super Bowl champions.
Leading rusher Leonard Fournette is on injured reserve for the rest of the regular season following a hamstring injury suffered in Sunday’s loss to New Orleans.
The move reunites Bell with Antonio Brown, who formed a potent 1-2 offensive punch with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fournette, 26, leads the team in carries (180), rushing yards (812) and rushing touchdowns (eight). He also has provided an impact in the passing game with 69 receptions for 454 yards and two touchdowns. The Bucs expect Fournette back for the playoffs, per the report.
Ronald Jones II likely will assume the bulk of the workload in the backfield with Fournette sidelined.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians said Bell will be active for Sunday’s game against Carolina, “if he’s smart enough,” and that his role in the backfield remains to be determined.
“Depends on how fast he can catch up,” Arians said. “He’s been a good receiver in the past and played in this offense in Pittsburgh for a while.
“We’ll see what he can learn and what he can give us in the next few weeks.”
Bell, 29, appeared in five games earlier this season with the Baltimore Ravens. He rushed for 83 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries.
A three-time Pro Bowl and two-time All-Pro selection, Bell was a second-round pick (No. 48 overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2013 NFL Draft and went on to play five seasons in Pittsburgh (2013-17) before later playing for the New York Jets (2019-20) and Kansas City Chiefs (2020).
In 93 career games, Bell has 1,587 carries for 6,536 yards and 42 rushing touchdowns and 395 receptions for 3,258 yards and eight touchdowns. Since entering the league in 2013, Bell ranks fourth in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (9,794) and first among running backs.
Fournette was lost for at least the regular season while wide receiver Chris Godwin suffered a season-ending knee injury in the same game.
“It’s just next man up and some young players’ roles (have) changed,” Arians said. “Some are now starting, and others are immediate backups.
“This time of year, you shouldn’t be a young player anymore. You should embrace your role and your opportunity.”
–Field Level Media
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