Now that Leonard Fournette and Jalen Ramsey are back at TIAA Bank Field for the Jacksonville Jaguars mandatory minicamp, the team is whole again.
Both Jalen Ramsey and Leonard Fournette were on hand for practice Tuesday morning as the Jacksonville Jaguars started the first of three days of preparation before a five-week layoff before training camp begins. For Fournette, this is his second year in the NFL after a rookie season that saw him rush for 1,040 yards in 13 games.
Fournette, the fourth overall pick in the 2017 Draft looked leaner and in better shape than he was a year ago. He said he put in a lot of work in the offseason while back home in Louisiana. But after missing 9 of the 10 OTA practices the past three weeks, he is ready to focus on winning football games.
"“It was good [the first practice on Tuesday]. I am happy to be back. I had to take care of some family issues. I’m glad to be back.”"
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Fournette pronounced himself in “tip-top” shape and was ready to work in an offense that has new weapons. The former LSU star said he wants to focus on better communication with the entire offense in order for the team to exceed its win total and final stop during the 2017 season – the AFC Title game.
While he could not pinpoint things he could do better about his own game, he did make sure the media who interviewed him after practice on Tuesday he has one goal in mind for this franchise – reaching the Super Bowl.
"“We have the team, the coaches, we have the leadership, we have everything we want in a football team, we just have to put the pieces together,” he said."
Fournette was the missing piece to a puzzle that was unsolved for many seasons. His 1,000-yard season was the first the Jaguars had since Maurice Jones-Drew won the rushing title with 1,606 yards in 2011. Had he not missed three games last year, Fournette was on pace for a 1,200-yard year.
With an improved offensive line and a healthy season – he suffered ankle and hamstring woes – those numbers are attainable.
Fournette said the offseason allowed him recovery time and the ability to get rest for the upcoming season. His straight-ahead bruising style of running was the key component of the rushing attack last season.
Jacksonville led the NFL in rushing in 2017 with 141.1 yards per contest.
The leaner look is something that could help Fournette down the stretch during the end of the 2018 campaign. He faced eight-man fronts more than the Jaguars could count last season, daring the Jaguars to beat opponents with the passing game. Now, with a year of experience at this level, it’s time for the Jaguars to once again lean on their bell cow and push opposing defenses backward.
"“I feel like I play my best at what I played at in college, 223, 224 [pounds],” Fournette said after practice. “I put in my best at that weight and why not? I don’t want to be average, I want to be above average. I want to be the greatest one to play this game.”"