Being part of the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason with OTAs and minicamp have been fine, but rookie Leonard Fournette can’t wait for the team to out the pads on.
He’s probably just as anxious as every other player on the Jaguars’ roster. A true test of this team will be when offense and defense gets a crack at hitting each other.
“The fourth overall pick in April’s NFL Draft is a punishing runner that is at his best when he can use his physicality to his advantage,” writes Curtis Crabtree of NFL.com. “However, doing so in OTAs and mini-camp is against the rules, so Fournette will have to wait until training camp to showcase that side of his game.”
The Jaguars have had a weak running game over the past five seasons, but the addition of Fournette this offseason gives the team a reason for hope. Jacksonville hasn’t had this kind of running back on its roster since Fred Taylor ran through defenses.
“A lot of those guys are strong and fast,” Fournette said Thursday after the team’s final minicamp practice. The comments were written by Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com.
“The first day in pads, it’s going to be crazy. Instead of me running towards [defensive end] Calais [Campbell] and stopping, I have to really block him now.
“That’s one of the things that’s in the back of my head. It should be fun going out there, getting better, competing with each other, getting each other better. I love this team.”
Fournette’s affinity for the Jaguars is mutual. The Jaguars coaching staff has been pleased with what they have seen so far from the former LSU star.
Fournette ran for 3,830 yards and 40 touchdowns in three seasons at LSU – all in three seasons. If he can run for over 1,000 yards this season, it will mark the first time a Jaguars’ running back has do so since 2011 when Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 1,606 yards and won the NFL rushing title.
DiRocco wrote the Jaguars are expected to give Fournette a heavy workload in 2017. That may mean averaging 15-20 touches per game as the Jaguars try to transition to a run-heavy offense. The change in philosophy means quarterback Blake Bortles may not have to sling the football all over the field for this team to win games in 2017.
To continue to prepare for the start of training camp, Fournette will stay in Jacksonville during the five-week layoff.