Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette is unlikely to play on Sunday against the New England Patriots, but no decision has officially been made.
The Jacksonville Jaguars promoted running back Brandon Wilds from the practice squad on Saturday, adding to speculation that Leonard Fournette will not be on the field when the team plays the New England Patriots. The move means the Jaguars now have four running backs on the roster.
In a corresponding move, the team has announced that wide receiver Rashad Greene has been released.
The news of Fournette’s potential absence was first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN.
While Fournette and the Jaguars training staff have been working all week on what was once viewed as a “minor” injury, there has always been a chance the second-year running would not play in the second game of the 2018 season. Fournette, a 2017 first-round draft pick, dealt with injuries last season that forced him to miss two games.
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It’s an injury, as he told head coach Doug Marrone earlier in the week, he had in high school. Despite putting in work this week on the side during practice and with the trainers, no official word has been given on his status other than he remains questionable for the tilt Sunday afternoon.
Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com wrote on Saturday following the addition of Wilds…
"“The Jaguars have promoted RB Brandon Wilds from the practice squad and have cut WR Rashad Greene. The move could be an indication that RB Leonard Fournette (hamstring) may not be able to play Sunday against New England. Fournette was listed as questionable for the game and the plan was to have him test the hamstring on Saturday and Sunday before a final determination on his status was made. RB T.J. Yeldon was added to the injury report on Friday with an ankle issue but the team said he will play against the Patriots. He was not listed on the game status report.”"
Yeldon, who has started in place of Fournette last season, will become the focal point of the team’s running game. The former second-round pick out of Alabama in 2015 is a capable runner who is also a valuable pass catcher out of the backfield. He ran for 112 yards in the 27-0 win over Indianapolis in Week 7 last season after being inactive the first six games of the 2017 season.
Per the story on ESPN.com, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said Friday that if Fournette plays, his snaps will not be limited. Marrone also said he would be comfortable having only two healthy running backs available if Fournette doesn’t play.
Fullback Tommy Bohanon is also on the roster and could see more playing time.
Corey Grant, who the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent in 2015, has been a change of pace back for the team and was instrumental in helping Jacksonville jump out early on the Patriots in the AFC Title Game last season. He figures to be more involved in the offense this week.
As I wrote on Saturday, the thought on Friday was Fournette was getting himself ready for Sunday and had shown enough improvement to give it a go. Marrone met with the media after practice and when asked said Fournette continued to show he was making progress.
"“He had a good day yesterday [Friday]. That’s encouraging,” Marrone said. “Today we just wanted to make sure we got a good lift and everything in and get him ready, see how he’s going to be this afternoon when we talk to him and work him out.”"
Fournette became the second rookie running back in Jaguars history last season to run for over 1,000 yards with 1,040 yards over 13 games. He had nine rushing touchdowns and added one more receiving.