The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are hoping to see the return of 'Playoff Lenny' this postseason. The first step was to make him 'Active Lenny.'
On Saturday, the Buccaneers activated running back Leonard Fournette for injured reserve, making him eligible to play in Sunday's Divisional Round game against the Los Angeles Rams at Raymond James Stadium. Fournette missed the last three games of the regular season and the Wild Card win over Philadelphia due to a hamstring injury suffered in Week 15.
To make room for Fournette on the 53-man roster, the Buccaneers waived running back Le'Veon Bell. The team also elevated wide receiver John Brown and quarterback Ryan Griffin from the practice squad, making them eligible to play on Sunday as well.
Fournette become known as 'Playoff Lenny' and then 'Lombardi Lenny' during the Buccaneers' run to the Super Bowl LV championship last year due to his outsized production. He set franchise records for a single postseason in yards from scrimmage (448) and rushing yards (300) and tied Mike Alsott's record for touchdowns scored with four. Fournette's 448 yards for scrimmage were the ninth-most by an individual player in a single postseason in NFL history. He also became just the third player in league annals ever to score a touchdown in four straight games in the same postseason.
Fournette carried that playoff hot streak into the 2021 regular season, quickly earning the lead role in the Buccaneers' backfield and racking up 1,265 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns in 14 games before his injury. He led the Buccaneers in rushing with 812 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He also finished third on the team with 69 receptions; at the time of his injury, Fournette led all NFL running backs in receptions, and he still finished third in that category despite the time missed.
Bell played in the final three regular-season games for Tampa Bay after being signed on December 22. He contributed 18 yards on eight carries and also caught four passes for 31 yards and a touchdown. The eighth-year back was active for the Wild Card game against the Eagles but did not see action in the game. Fournette rejoins a Buccaneer backfield that also includes Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard. Vaughn and Bernard combined for 97 receiving yards and 48 receiving yards against the Eagles, with each scoring a rushing touchdown.
Brown was signed to the Bucs' practice squad last Thursday. The Buccaneers will be without wide receiver Breshad Perriman on Sunday due to a hip injury and fellow wideout Cyril Grayson is questionable for the game due to a hamstring strain that kept him out of the last two contests.
Brown has played in exactly 100 regular-season NFL games, with 65 starts, and has recorded 320 receptions for 4,748 yards and 31 touchdowns. He spent his first four seasons under Head Coach Bruce Arians after the Arizona Cardinals made him a third-round pick in the 2014 draft. Brown has two 1,000-yard receiving seasons, most recently with the Buffalo Bills in 2019. This year, he played in two games each with Denver and Jacksonville before landing back with Arians in Tampa.
Griffin has spent the entire season, his seventh with the Buccaneers overall. Originally a waiver claim from the New Orleans Saints in September of 2015, Griffin spent most of the next six seasons on Tampa Bay's active roster but appeared in just two games, throwing a total of four passes.