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Bruce Arians told Leonard Fournette in late 2020 to stop “pouting”

Mike Florio and Peter King draft the best quartets in the NFL, including the Browns, Chiefs and Buccaneers.

Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians previously has addressed his conversation with running back Leonard Fournette after the fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft became a healthy scratch for the team’s Week 14 win over the Vikings. In a new podcast appearance, Arians elaborated on the conversation that he had with Fournette.

"[I]t was going into the end of the season, and he was unsure of what his role was, or unhappy with what his role was,” Arians said on the Pewter Report Podcast. “We had a walk-through and he was a little bit disinterested. And we had a nice conversation. I said, ‘Look, when you come back on this field, you have 30 seconds to come back here and tell me that you’re all in, or you’re going to ask me to release you. Go inside, call whoever. But you’re not going to sit over there away from everybody. You have a tough decision.’”

Arians understood the challenge Fournette was confronting.

“I mean, he had been the guy everywhere he’d ever been his whole life,” Arians said. “And he wasn’t the guy and it was hard for him. And I respected that, but he had to make a decision then and there. Because we weren’t going to have anyone who was pouting going down the stretch. We couldn’t afford it. He came back in 30 minutes and said, ‘Coach, I’m all in’. I said, ‘Great, because we are going to need you’. Then [Ronald Jones] got hurt and Lenny came right to the front and led us all the way.”

Indeed he did.

He gained 65 yards from scrimmage and scored twice in a Week 15 win over the Falcons. He had 66 yards and another score in the Week 16 romp over the Lions.

Fournette went next level in the playoffs, with 132 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in the wild-card round, 107 yards and a touchdown against the Saints, 74 yards and a touchdown against the Packers, and 135 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs.