By Hays Carlyon
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone was asked what he wants to see from running back Leonard Fournette in his second season prior to the start of Tuesday’s mandatory minicamp.
Marrone indicated that Fournette could have more of a role on third down. As a rookie, Fournette was often replaced by T.J. Yeldon to maintain a stronger level of pass protection.
“Leonard is a playmaker, so we’re trying to get him on the field as much as we can and keep pushing him over to third down,” Marrone said. “I thought he did a very good job at the end of the year in the protection phase of things – really stepping up there with blitzing linebackers and really taking them on.”
It isn’t uncommon for rookie running backs to struggle with pass protection. The key is can they ever learn to do it properly? Marrone obviously thinks Fournette can. That would make the Jaguars offense more difficult to defend.
“He showed great growth in his first year from that because that’s usually the toughest thing,” Marrone said. “As far as college, a lot of stuff comes from the field or the corner from the boundary from a pressure standpoint. But, in the NFL week-to-week, each team has their own little unique package that you really have to study and try to get a bead on to be able to [have] pass protection pick-up. I really saw him at the end of the year do a great job of that.”
Fournette showed the running ability that led the Jaguars to take him with the fourth-overall pick. Counting the playoffs, Fournette carried 338 times for 1,262 yards with 13 touchdowns. He also showed an impressive skill set as a receiver, catching 43 passes for 346 yards with a score.
(You can email Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon).