- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 3-point home favorites in their NFC Divisional Round game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, January 23
- Tampa Bay has activated leading rusher Leonard Fournette from IR for the game
- See the latest Rams vs Buccaneers injury report, including who’s playing and who isn’t
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are getting back their leading rusher in time for Sunday’s NFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams. Running back Leonard Fournette was activated Saturday from IR and is figuring prominently in our Rams vs Buccaneers props.
Fournette’s return is also a significant development because Ronald Jones, the number two back on the Tampa Bay depth chart, is being ruled out of Sunday’s game due to an ankle injury.
Two starters are out for the Rams – left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee) and strong safety Taylor Rapp (concussion).
Los Angeles Rams Injury Report
|Ernest Jones||ILB||Ankle||Out (IR)|
|Jordan Fuller||SS||Ankle||Out (IR)|
|Robert Woods||WR||Knee||Out (IR)|
A look into the Rams’ backfield offers ample evidence of the value of a team getting their top rusher back in order to spark the run game. Two weeks ago, the Rams welcomed back running back Cam Akers. He’d missed the entire season due to an Achilles injury.
Against Arizona, Akers rambled for 55 yards on the ground and caught passes good for another 40 yards in LA’s 34-11 NFC Wild Card win over the Cardinals. A couple of big gainers were wiped out by penalties and Akers and QB Matthew Stafford just missed connecting on a chunk yardage pass play.
Rams RB Cam Akers tore his Achilles in July.
He went for 95 yards against the Cardinals on Monday.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 19, 2022
Combined with Super Bowl winner Sony Michel (58 yards), the pairing went over the 100-yard rushing total.
While the Rams are relatively healthy, the loss of Whitworth – the second-most famous 40-year-old in this game after Bucs QB Tom Brady – could be concerning. He’s started all 17 games this season. One of the best pass blockers in the game, Whitworth protects Stafford’s blind side. While not in Whitworth’s class, replacement Joe Noteboom did start two games this season and nine during the 2020 campaign.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Injury Report
|Chris Godwin||WR||ACL/MCL||Out (IR)|
|Richard Sherman||CB||Achilles||Out (IR)|
Tampa Bay is still facing issues at the wide receiver position. The bizarre departure of Antonio Brown, coupled with the season-ending knee injury suffered by Chris Godwin, cost Brady two of his favorite targets.
Tom Brady WRs:
* Mike Evans
* Chris Godwin (out, ACL)
* Antonio Brown (out, quit)
* Tyler Johnson
* Cyril Grayson (Q, hamstring)
* Breshad Perriman (out, hip)
* Scotty Miller
* Jaelon Darden
* John Brown (p-squad)
* Justin Watson (p-squad)
— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) January 21, 2022
To make matters worse, veteran Breshad Perriman (hip/abdomen) is out for Sunday’s game. Cyril Grayson (hamstring) is questionable. Those two combined for 21 catches and three TDs during the regular season.
As well, 40% of Tampa Bay’s starting offensive line – center Ryan Jensen (ankle) and right tackle Tristan Wirfs (ankle) – are also listed as questionable.
Playoff Lenny Is Back For Buccaneers
Fournette led the Buccaneers with 817 yards on the ground, even though he hasn’t played since Week 15. With Jones also out of action since Week 16, that’s left Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard to carry the load when it comes to carrying the ball.
The return of Fournette also means the return of Playoff Lenny and that’s worthy of note. Traditionally in postseason play Fournette dons a cape and turns into some sort of football-lugging superhero.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 22, 2022
In last year’s Super Bowl-winning campaign, Fournette scored six regular-season touchdowns. He found the end zone four times in four playoff games. Over his NFL career, Fournette has scored 35 TDs in 63 regular-season games. He’s been on a better than a TD-per-game pace in the playoffs with eight TDs in seven games.