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The wave: “That was epic, man”

Posted Oct 9, 2017

Even beyond “The Wave,” rookie running back Leonard Fournette is setting a tone for Jaguars’ offense – and defense – early in 2017 season


JACKSONVILLE – Leonard Fournette’s unique, that’s for sure.

In fact, one of his Jaguars teammates on Monday used a stronger word than “unique” to describe the rookie running back.

“Leonard’s crazy – he’s a good kid, though,” wide receiver Marqise Lee said with a laugh a day after Fournette rushed for a career-high 181 yards and two touchdowns in the Jaguars’ 30-9 victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Lee was discussing Fournette for the same reason many of his teammates were discussing the rookie Monday: he’s not only defining the Jaguars’ offense through five games, he’s starting to do so in high-profile, dominant and entertaining fashion.

Fournette’s profile took a decided step up Sunday.

Not only did the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft set a career-high in rushing yards and touchdowns against the NFL’s fourth-ranked defense, he did so in memorable style. And that was even before his 90-yard touchdown run set a franchise record with just under two minutes remaining.

Fournette, whose bruising running style has been defining the Jaguars’ offense through the first five weeks, had several such runs early in the game. Then, in the fourth quarter came a play that had Twitter buzzing Sunday night – and that had teammates talking after the game Sunday and into Monday.

Fournette on first-and-10 from the Jaguars 39 with 10:49 remaining broke free around the right side of the Jaguars’ line. As he did, he motioned for Steelers safety Mike Mitchell to come forward and hit him. Mitchell did, and Fournette finished off the run for a 12-yard gain and a first down.

Mitchell and Fournette both leaped their feet, jawing at the other as Fournette said the two had done throughout much of the game.

It was the mid-play wave toward Mitchell that had Twitter talking.

“I saw the memes about it; people had crazy memes,” Lee said.

Linebacker Myles Jack didn’t need a meme to know he saw something special. The second-year veteran said he has taken to keeping an eye on Fournette from the sideline.

“You’ve got to pay attention when the ball’s in his hands,” Jack said, “so I’m always watching. Even if my coach is coaching, I take a peek.”

Jack said he was watching the Heinz Field scoreboard when Fournette waved.

“That was epic, man,” Jack said. “I was hyped when I saw it. I was like, ‘Dang, did he really do it?’ Everyone was like, ‘Yeah.’’’

Jack was asked what Fournette’s style does for the defense.

“We feed off of it,” Jack said. “It’s a true team sport. If we do something, the offense feeds off it. If they do something – get a big play, get physical or disrespect their defense – we’re definitely going to get hyped. It’s big.”

Fournette’s style has been evident through five games this season. He is second in the NFL in rushing with 466 yards and four touchdowns on 109 carries – and his ability to hammer through defenders, and muscle for extra yards has been key to his production.

It also has become the Jaguars’ identity.

“That’s just us,” Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson said. “That’s our attitude. That wasn’t sending a message to the offense, because that’s just how we are. It was more of a message to the defense that: ‘This is how we play. We’re physical. We’re not running from contact or anything like that.’’’

Defensive tackle Malik Jackson agreed.

“It just shows what kind of team we are,” Jackson said. “We’re a tough team. We like contact. We’re very physical. We want the issue to be brought to us so we can show people we can stand up to it and overcome it. Seeing that’s just a symbol of our team and who we are.”

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