TAMPA, Fla. -- Although Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said running back Ronald Jones is "doing well" after undergoing surgery Tuesday to repair a broken pinkie, Jones now has another hurdle he must clear: The team announced Wednesday that he has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
The NFL does not distinguish between those who have tested positive for the virus and those who are close contacts, but the Bucs had already placed three players -- kicker Ryan Succop, punter Bradley Pinion and long-snapper Zach Triner -- on the list this week.
Per NFL rules, players who are deemed "high-risk close contacts" must wait at least five days since their last contact with the infected individual before resuming football activities on the sixth day, as long as all tests are negative. Infected individuals can't return to the team until at least 10 days after the start of symptoms, plus at least 24 hours after symptoms have passed.
If Jones can't go, Leonard Fournette will start this week, Arians said. The team has also sorted through its contingency plans at the other positions.
"Anthony Nelson is our [emergency] punting snapper; Ryan Jensen is the short snapper; and Blaine Gabbert is the holder," Arians said. "Those guys all executed really, really well today. The punting job -- depending on game day -- would probably be Ryan Succop, Greg Joseph or whoever the kicker is."
Arians praised the Bucs' front office for assembling a roster that he feels can overcome the potential loss of multiple key players. Some had questioned the Bucs acquiring LeSean McCoy and Fournette, indicating that it could hurt Jones' confidence. The Bucs had also kept and protected Joseph on their practice squad all season.
"I can't say enough about Jason [Licht] and the job he's done. This is a heck of a roster; we've got depth everywhere," Arians said. "When we've had guys go down, we've had quality people [replace them]. Just watching them work in the last 24 hours with snappers, punters and kickers -- getting guys in here was amazing. Quality people, too."