Bucs continues to distribute, and Leonard Fournette continues to deliver
PHILADELPHIA – Rightly so, the blue collar arrived on the post-match podium wearing a trucker cap with a bright orange beak and a word across the front in orange letters on a white background.
Leonard Fournette, the main benefactor of the cast these days in the Bucs’ offense, then spoke about his way of playing: head down, outspoken, more functional than flowery.
“To be honest, it’s just hard work, that’s it,” said the 26-year-old defenseman after his third straight game for over 100 yards in Thursday’s 28-22 win over the Eagles. “Throughout the week we have a game plan, and I just try to follow it as much as I can until the end, to help my team and put them in a better position. That’s all I do.
But that’s not all. The dude with a dozen nicknames – Playoff Lenny, Lombardi Lenny and now Workhorse Lenny – takes on a bigger offensive load with every game.
Against the Eagles, Fournette recorded a record 81 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 22 carries, and caught all six passes that Tom Brady threw at him for 46 yards.
“Lenny was really, really good, really solid – running and passing, and protecting the passes,” said coach Bruce Arians. “He’s playing like a very good three-way back at a high level right now. “
On a healthy game day just 10 months ago, Fournette pulled out of an emotional funk to enjoy a dazzling playoff series. Now he broke free from the Bucs’ impasse at the start of this season.
In his last three games, all Bucs have won, he totaled 139, 110 and 127 total yards, with three total touchdowns. The Bucs’ opening second-half training Thursday offered a microcosm of his versatility – and value – during that span.
He converted twice on the third down with 20- and 6-yard runs and finished the 12-play walk with a 1-yard run down the middle to give the Bucs a 28-7 lead. For the drive, Fournette had six carries for 39 yards and a 4-yard catch.
“Dude, Lenny, he surprises you every time,” said outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett.
“Because you know he has the power, he also has the speed and the jolts. … Like the one here (Thursday), he just put his foot in the ground and cut the guy, broke his ankles. He looked really good. I’m proud of my boy Lenny, man. He left.
Fournette attributes his recent rise to neither groove nor rhythm (although both are likely byproducts of consistent touches), but more to his greater familiarity with offense, peers, and quarterback. Once viewed as a responsibility to catch passes, he said extra road racing sessions with Tom Brady have become a daily training event.
“(Brady) is trying to tell me what he likes, what he thinks the road should be, and I just am,” Fournette said.
The result: the distribution of his quarterback, and a lot.
“No. 1, I think I’m just blessed to be in this position,” Fournette said.
“From being cut (by the Jaguars in 2020) now to being part of helping this organization and this team win, I’m going to start with that. And also my coaches and teammates trust me, knowing and believing that I can get the job done at the end of the day.
“When you have that, my teammates plus the support of my family and kids, everyone in New Orleans (his homeland), the sky is the limit for me.”
Contact Joey Knight at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.
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