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Bruce Arians: Ronald Jones will 'carry the load' as Bucs' RB1

Ke'Shawn Vaughn was added to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers via the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft and veteran LeSean McCoy was just recently signed.

Nonetheless, Bucs coach Bruce Arians made an emphatic declaration on Wednesday that Ronald Jones II is RB1 for Tampa Bay in 2020.

"RoJo is the main guy," Arians told reporters Wednesday, via team transcript. "He'll carry the load. All of those other guys are fighting for roles -- [for] who goes in second when he gets tired, maybe who is the third-down guy. But they're all fighting for a role and special teams will have a lot to do with that."

Jones' 2018 rookie season was a disastrous one in which he played in only nine games and tallied a paltry line of 23 carries for 44 yards on the campaign.

However, Jones rebounded in dramatic fashion during Arians' first season at the Buccaneers' helm. The USC product led the team with 724 yards on the ground and apparently gained Arians' confidence as the campaign wore on.

"He improved dramatically from last April to December," Arians said. "He has shown that he's the guy. He is a guy with a lot of talent. He is excellent in the screen game. His run after catch is good. Just for him -- how much can he expand it? But I have all the confidence in the world [in him]. He put a lot of time in working out and catching balls to improve his hands in the offseason and it's showing up already."

Catching balls out of the backfield will be paramount for Jones with the addition of Tom Brady. Brady's seemingly always had a stellar option at running back to find in the flats or over the short middle, such as James White most recently and Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead and Kevin Faulk, among others, in the past. Brady is also a master at the screen game.

That, in particular, might be where McCoy will fit in, along with lending leadership to the backfield stable.

"LeSean -- adding him -- he's a great veteran, he's a very bright guy and he's already coaching those guys and helping them out. He'll find his niche easily," Arians said. "Oh yeah, [McCoy's] a heck of a receiver. That's the one thing that gets me excited having played against him all these years is that he's a hell of a receiver and he's still got a very explosive first step."

But Jones is leading the backfield, that much is certain going forward.

Providing a true and consistent backfield threat has been a hurdle uncleared by the Bucs for some time now. Not since Doug Martin in 2015 has Tampa Bay boasted a 1,000-yard rusher, though it looks like Jones will be the leading candidate to do that and the leading man as far as Bucs backs are concerned.

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