TAMPA, Fla. (AP)The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have addressed the need for experienced depth at running back by signing former All-Pro Le’Veon Bell.
Bell, released this season after appearing in five games with the Baltimore Ravens, joined the Bucs on Thursday as the reigning Super Bowl champions continue to deal with mounting injuries that have depleted a strong group of playmakers assembled around Tom Brady.
Starter Leonard Fournette suffered a hamstring injury during last Sunday’s 9-0 loss to the New Orleans Saints, creating an opportunity for fourth-year pro Ronald Jones to move back into a role he lost to Fournette late last season.
Fournette’s injury came a week after Giovani Bernard, another veteran brought in to help Brady, was hurt against Buffalo and wound up on injured reserve. The Bucs also lost receiver Chris Godwin to a season-ending knee injury and top receiver Mike Evans injured a hamstring against the Saints, too.
Bell, 29, is a three-time 1,000-yard rusher who was attractive to the Bucs because of his experience. He joins second-year pro Ke’Shawn Vaughn in backing up Jones, who’s averaged 4.7 yards per carry while rushing for 337 yards and three TDs this season.
Since entering the NFL as a second-round draft pick with Pittsburgh in 2013, Bell has rushed for 6,536 yards and 42 touchdowns while also catching 395 passes for 3,258 yards and eight TDs with the Steelers, Jets, Chiefs and Ravens.
Fournette, who left last Sunday’s game in the third quarter, has rushed for 812 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s also second on the team with 69 receptions for another 454 yards and two TDs.
In five games with the Ravens, Bell carried 31 times for 83 yards and two TDs.
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