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Bruce Arians names Ronald Jones as Buccaneers' starting RB

Ronald Jones will be the starting running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers going forward, coach Bruce Arians announced Monday, one day after the second-year player made his first career start against Seattle.

"I think he handled it really well," Arians said. "I think RoJo has earned the right to play a little bit more and start the ballgame."

Jones rushed for 67 yards on 18 touches, averaging 3.7 yards per carry and a touchdown while tacking on two catches for 15 yards.

"He's been consistent (and) he's been more explosive. It's not that Peyton (Barber) did anything wrong," Arians said, adding that T.J. Logan and Dare Ogunbowale would continue to serve as third-down backs.

Before Sunday, Arians had alternated each series with Jones and Barber, with Barber getting the nod first and then Arians going with the hot hand.

Jones has outperformed Barber this season through, rushing for 381 yards and averaging 4.1 yards per carry, whereas Barber, who has been the Bucs' starter since the end of 2017, has rushed for 277 yards on 83 carries, averaging 3.3 yards per carry.

A second-round draft pick out of USC in 2018, Jones struggled significantly as a rookie. He was a healthy scratch the first four games of the season and saw just 23 total touches all year.

Many in the Bucs' organization felt that he didn't fully understand what it took to be a professional, something Jones has admitted himself. Fast-forward to 2019, and he nearly beat out Barber for the job in training camp.

"He's impressing us every single day," quarterback Jameis Winston said of Jones. "He's still a young guy, continuing to get better when he totes that rock. So is Peyton. It was unique to see the carries, with him starting. He was ready to rock and roll and he did an excellent job."

Arians also added that tight end O.J. Howard is expected to return this week against the Arizona Cardinals after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury.

"O.J. should be ready to roll this week and we should get him back," Arians said, adding that Cameron Brate continues to be limited by a rib injury that saw him play just 11 snaps Sunday.

Reserve tight end Antony Auclair is dealing with significant turf toe as well.