-The Buccaneers had their second day of practice this week, thanks to a bonus day on Tuesday after their mini-bye. They returned some players to practice that had been ailing, including running backs LeSean McCoy and Leonard Fournette. Though the latter was active for the game against the Bears in Chicago, he didn't play any significant time while McCoy sat out entirely. That meant it was up to third-year man Ronald Jones to carry the Bucs' ground game on his shoulders in the city of broad ones. And he delivered, recording his second consecutive 100-yard game, a first for the young back.
"I think he knows the offense, he knows what to expect [and] he knows the blocking schemes," said Head Coach Bruce Arians on Jones. "I think he made [Bears LB] Roquan Smith miss dead in the hole twice. I wouldn't say there was any contact, but he made him miss. He's always had that ability [and] he's really got much better patience. He's not running as fast to the hole and [he's] seeing things better this year like he did near the end of last year. He's just growing in the offense."
And to what does RoJo attribute his uptick in production? Like a true veteran player, he deflected to start.
"First off, it's got to be the offensive line getting it done up front," said Jones. "Then in the offseason, I worked on adding muscle and strength – running hills and all of that. I think it's just all coming into play and helping my game move forward in year three."
The Bucs will face another running back Jones when the Green Bay Packers come to town on Sunday. That's Aaron Jones, who is a major component of Green Bay's offense. He'll be facing the league's best run defense, who just suffered a major loss when defensive lineman Vita Vea broke his leg in Chicago. It means there will be some shuffling up front and defensive lineman Will Gholston may have to move around, which he's done in the past.
"It's a big difference playing in there," Gholston said of playing the nose tackle position. "It moves a little faster, [you've] got to have a lot more weight on it. Whatever any of the coaches ask me to do, I'll be able to do [and] I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. I'm not 100 percent sure what I will or won't do – I can't say that – but if they call my number to do it, I'm going to do it."
In addition to the guys up front, the secondary has been a big help in run support as well. Arians said on Wednesday how well Bucs' cornerbacks tackle and how much they're utilized in stopping the run. They, of course, have to pull double duty and will have a challenge in coverage as they face one of the league's best quarterbacks in Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers.
"It's all about preparation," said cornerback Jamel Dean of facing him. "I've been diving in on a lot of film study this week just to be able to see his tendencies, recognize formations and what they like to do. I don't want to be caught off-guard by how he uses his eyes."
"The little things are going to matter this game because on their offensive side of the ball, they're really disciplined. We just have to be able to play our game on defense and create turnovers."
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