JACKSONVILLE – He feels good and plans to work to keep it that way.
Leonard Fournette spoke to the media Wednesday as what for him has been an important offseason draws to a close, speaking about a number of topics.
Perhaps most notably:
He likes his results from the last six months.
“I feel comfortable where I’m at,” Fournette said Wednesday afternoon on Day 2 of Jaguars 2019 minicamp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex adjacent to TIAA Bank Field. “I’m satisfied. I just have to keep up the hard work.”
Fournette, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, spent the early part of this offseason training at the University of Wyoming with his strength-and-conditioning coach from Louisiana State Ben Iannacchione. He then worked with the Jaguars in Jacksonville during much of the voluntary offseason program beginning in mid-April before missing the last several voluntary organized team activities in recent weeks.
He has participated as expected in this week’s mandatory minicamp, which began Tuesday and is scheduled to end Thursday. And he said his offseason work isn’t yet complete.
“I’ll probably take a week off of vacation and start back working out,” he said.
Fournette, who rushed for 1,039 and nine touchdowns as a rookie, rushed for 439 yards and five touchdowns in a 2018 season in which he missed seven games with injuries and another while serving a one-game suspension.
He will attempt to return and surpass his rookie form this season in a new offense installed by new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who historically has run a pass-oriented scheme but who spoke early this offseason of Fournette being critical to the offense.
“It’s still football at the end of the day – different concepts, different meaning and words,” Fournette said of the transition to a new offense. “It’s the same. It’s not that bad. Opening up the passing game helps the running game, too. It’s kind of a 50-50 thing. It’s helping everyone.
“In this offense, if one guy’s not open somebody else is going to open always. That’s the good thing about it – just keep moving the ball.”
New quarterback Nick Foles, who played in a similar offense while working with DeFilippo when the latter was the quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia in 2017, talked on Thursday about the importance of passing to backs out of the backfield.
“That’s a threat,” Foles said. “If you ask any defender, when a running back can go out of the backfield and not only run the ball and protect, but he can receive, that’s really tough on a defense. I’ve been blessed to play with a lot of great running backs in my career that have made me look good because what they can do and there is nothing better than throwing the ball to a running back and letting him miss a guy.
“That’s what I love about backs. If you can catch, you can do so many different things. You can have a lot of fun out there.”
While many analysts questioned Fournette as a receiver entering the draft, he has caught 58 passes for 487 yards and two touchdowns – and he figures to be a key part of the passing offense this season.
“I came from a running school (Louisiana State) where we ran the ball a lot,” Fournette said. “I’m not really worried about what anybody else says – if I can’t catch or anything like that. It’s a new year, a new season. We’ll see when the season opener comes.”
Fournette also on Wednesday discussed new running backs coach Terry Robiskie, a 38-year NFL coaching veteran who was hired by the Jaguars in February – in large part to have a positive influence on and work with Fournette.
“He’s been coaching for so long; he’s coached them all and I’m just learning from him day by day,” Fournette said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Fournette, like Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey on Tuesday, expressed support for Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. The fourth-year veteran is not attending minicamp because he has yet to sign a contract extension.
“He started with us; he’s one of the guys who kind of put Jacksonville on the map,” Fournette said. “My three years being with him, he’s done everything wrong. God doesn’t make mistakes. He’s going to get what he deserves.”