JACKSONVILLE – Doug Marrone is optimistic about Leonard Fournette.
Marrone, the Jaguars’ head coach, said he met with the second-year running back last week following a difficult season for the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Marrone called the meeting “encouraging.”
“I had a meeting with Leonard – I wanna say last week,” Marrone said Wednesday during a media availability at TIAA Bank Field to discuss the Jaguars’ 2019 coaching staff being finalized.
“We had a good meeting. I’m not going to speak for Leonard, but when he left that meeting … I think he’s in a really good place. That’s encouraging and I’m excited about that.”
Fournette, who rushed for 1,140 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie, missed seven games because of injuries in 2018 and also was suspended for a Week 13 victory over the Indianapolis Colts for his involvement in a multi-player Week 12 fight at Buffalo.
He finished the 2018 season with 439 yards and five touchdowns on 133 carries, with Marrone noting multiple times late in the season that Fournette played fewer than 30 percent of the team’s offensive snaps.
Fournette also missed the Jaguars’ Week 17 loss at Houston, after which Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin issued a statement regarding the sideline behavior during the game of Fournette and reserve running back T.J. Yeldon.
“I am disappointed in the behavior today from T.J. Yeldon and Leonard Fournette,” the statement read. “They were disrespectful, selfish and their behavior was unbecoming that of a professional football player.”
The Jaguars immediately following the season dismissed running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley, then on Wednesday announced the hiring of longtime NFL assistant Terry Robiskie as running backs coach.
“Sometimes you meet people in life that have a special quality,” Marrone said Wednesday when asked about Robiskie’s possible influence on Fournette. “They’re able to relate to people – all different types of people. They’re able to communicate. They’re to establish a trust, establish a relationship … next thing you know, that person’s always getting the most out of people. There are times I’ve been able to do that and there are times I haven’t been.
“Terry is a person who has been able to do that and shown that through his whole career of over 40 years in this league. He’s the best guy I know who has that type of ability.”
Robiskie – like Fournette – played collegiately at Louisiana State University.
“I don’t know if Leonard even knew,” Marrone said, adding with a laugh: “I think he was the first running back at LSU to have over 200 yards. I don’t think Leonard would know that.”
Marrone was asked what was accomplished in the meeting with Fournette.
“We just talked: where we’re going, where we want to go, what we want to do,” Marrone said. “We set out a plan, and I feel good about it.”