Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette is “likely” to be put in reserve because of the hamstring injury that left him on crutches Sunday night, a league source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Fournette would miss the rest of the regular season, but a source said he is expected to return for the playoffs.
With Fournette incapacitated, the Buccaneers contract Le’Veon Bell pending a medical evaluation to aid Ronald Jones, a source that ESPN has confirmed. Bell is expected to be in Tampa Wednesday morning and he will be joining the active squad rather than the training team, according to sources.
Fournette suffered the injury in the third quarter of Sunday’s 9-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Last week, the Bucs placed veteran running back Giovani Bernard, their third to last back, on the injured reserve after sustaining an MCL sprain in his knee and a tendon in his hip. A source told ESPN that Bernard “could be back in time for the playoffs”.
But without Fournette and Bernard, the Bucs had Jones, who was deposed in his opening role by Fournette last year, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn in his sophomore year, who had returned. Jones’ forte wasn’t catching the pass and Vaughn lacked experience.
In Fournette’s absence, the Bucs were restricted in their short passing game when running back against the Saints. Jones stormed 63 yards with eight carries and caught two passes for eight yards. Vaughn had 19 rushing yards on three carries.
Bell, 29 and a former all-pro, last played for the Baltimore Ravens, where he stormed 83 yards, 31 carries with two touchdowns and caught a pass on two targets in five games.
The news of Bell’s signature was first reported on the NFL Network.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler contributed to this report.