The “Winner” In The Backfield

June 16th, 2013

Brian Leonard was the Bengals’ third-down back the past four seasons, three of them playoff years. Joe expects a prominent role in Tampa for the Rutgers man.

Joe asked the leader of the New Schiano Order about veteran running back Brian Leonard, a key pickup this offseason, and Greg Schiano gave Leonard the ultimate compliment: He called him “a winner.”

Schiano wouldn’t comment on how Leonard might improve the Bucs versus last year’s third-down back D.J. Ware. But Joe fully expects to see plenty of Leonard during the regular season. Leonard was the Bengals’ third-down back for the past four seasons. They made the playoffs three of the past four years.

“Well I don’t know about anything about upgrade/did not upgrade. We felt Brian could help us win. That’s why we brought him here. But Brian Leonard’s a winner,” Schiano said. “You know, I have a history with him since he was 16 years old and we’ve been through a lot together. This guy will, he’s an unselfish guy who will show up big when we need him. So I hope that he hasn’t changed.”

Leonard’s a Rutgers guy and extremely versatile. Running backs coach Earnest Byner raved to Joe last week about Leonard’s great hands and his “tweener” ability as a fullback and running back.

Joe chatted extensively with Leonard, who also revealed he was a four-phase, first-teamer on special teams in Cincinnati and looks forward to doing the same here. Leonard has worked plenty with the Bucs’ first-team offense to date but said he can’t clarify his role yet.

Wondering how close Leonard and Schiano are? Leonard said he went back to Rutgers every NFL offseason to train with Schiano’s program after being drafted by St. Louis in the second round to backup Steven Jackson in 2007.

Leonard said Schiano called him when free agency opened this year and said, “We’d like you to come here.”

Joe will bring more from Leonard in the coming days. Joe wants Bucs fans to get used to seeing Leonard. Joe suspects he’s going to have a very prominent role as the Bucs look to use Doug Martin more often and more creatively on third down.

12 Responses to “The “Winner” In The Backfield”

  1. Biff Barker Says:

    Most surprising to me was the Natti fans favorable comments and well wishes for Leonard after he signed here.
    Most felt he was underutilized there and had a knack for making the big play at a crucial time.
    The Bucs know exactly what they are getting, but will they use him?

  2. Mike J Says:

    Leonard lost one fumble in 245 touches, near as I can figure.

  3. tampabaybucfan Says:

    I really like what I’m seeing with the new Bucs/Coach relationships:


    And there may be more that I missed. I think these relationships will get the most out of each player.

  4. Buc-n-Junkie Says:


    Nice summary. When you put it down on paper you can appreciate what they are trying to do. You can see the direct correlations each player has with a mentoring coach from the past. It’s seems each of those coaches have been saddled with a reclamation project of a player they were associated with before. It appears this has been done by design, and the question is who thought this up? Schiano? Dominik? Davis? …. Was this one of the things Schiano schemed up during his self-evaluation? Who-ever it is is brilliant if each of these players above and beyond expectations. I’m with you tampabaybucfan

  5. tampabaybucfan Says:

    @ Buc N Junkie

    This may actually not be by design and it may be going on elsewhere. It is possible that while looking for depth they found several players that were somewhat equal for the exception of the relationship….so they erred on the side of familiarity.
    Regardless….I think it gives these particular players the best chance to perform at their peak.

  6. Snook Says:

    I think Leonard proves to be very valuable this season. And who wants to wager he gets more rushing yards and TDs than Blount in NE?

  7. BucoBruce Says:

    This guy is a stud ,my friend is a Bengal fan and raved about him and said he is very underrated.He is super clutch.BUCS SUPER BOWL 2013 champs.

  8. Stanglassman Says:

    TBBucsfan you missed:


  9. SteveK Says:

    Leonard coind the term “Leonard Leap” while hurdling would be tacklers at Rutgers.

    His running style, pass catching ability, selflessness, and buying into the program will be huge for us.

  10. tampabaybucfan Says:


    I didn’t include Cox/Hayward because he wasn’t a recent acquisition but I’m sure that relationship helps Hayward too.

  11. scubog Says:

    When in doubt, go with who you know.

  12. » Blog Archive » Brian Leonard’s Spotlight Moment - Tampa Bay Bucs Football Says:

    […] that will get as much work as he can handle Sunday. Schiano believes Leonard’s “a winner,” and Joe is sure Schiano want the ball in the hands of a guy he trusts, considering […]