JACKSONVILLE – There's an NFL reality with rookie running backs – with all positions, actually.
Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said that reality applies to rookie running back Leonard Fournette. And it applies no matter his draft status.
The reality with NFL rookies? You just don't know until you know.
"Every guy is different," Hackett said Thursday as the Jaguars prepared to play the Houston Texans in the 2017 regular-season opener at NRG Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m.
"Anytime you have a rookie you're always going to wonder how it's going to be when he first gets out there and plays against grown men. You never really know. With running backs, you're giving them the ball and you're asking them to carry the ball a couple of times.
"You're giving them a lot of touches, so it's going to be great for him to get out there and show what he can do."
Fournette, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown on nine carries in a preseason-opening victory over New England. He missed Preseason Weeks 2 and 3 with a foot injury before missing the preseason finale along with most other Jaguars starters.
Fournette is listed as a co-starter at running back with veterans Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon, and Head Coach Doug Marrone said Wednesday the team hadn't determined a starter for Sunday.
"He's a great presence," Hackett said. "The type of guy he is, just his running style. He runs very aggressively. He's just one of those guys … he's a downhill runner. You always like that attitude."
All three coordinators – Hackett on offense, Todd Wash on defense and Joe DeCamillis on special teams – spoke to the media Thursday. Here are notes and observation from Coordinator Thursday:
*The Jaguars' injury report stayed much the same from Wednesday to Thursday, with Yeldon returning to practice after missing Wednesday with a hamstring injury. Other Jaguars practicing with injuries Thursday were quarterback Blake Bortles (right wrist), wide receiver Dede Westbrook (core muscle), cornerback Jalen Ramsey (hip), free safety Tashaun Gipson (ankle), defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (knee), offensive tackle Josh Wells (ribs) and defensive lineman Michael Bennett (groin). …
*Hackett, speaking to the media for the first time since the end of the offseason program, discussed quarterback Blake Bortles' performance in recent weeks. Bortles began training camp as the starter, then was named the starter again after the third preseason game after competing for 10 days with backup Chad Henne. "Blake's done a good job," Hackett said. "It's a rollercoaster all the time. He just has to feel confident about himself and understand the things he's capable of and go out there and do them.'' …
*DeCamillis said he liked how kicker Jason Myers responded late in the preseason. Myers missed three field goals in the first two preseason games, and also missed an extra point after a short snap. Myers converted field goals from 44, 56 and 36 without a miss in the final two games of the preseason. DeCamillis said adjusting to long snapper Matt Overton after Carson Tinker's season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament early in training camp played an early role on field goals and extra points. "I think he improved," DeCamillis said of Myers. "Hopefully that carries over into this game. Getting a new snapper was a big issue, and I think we just had to work some things out as far as timing." Asked the difference with a new snapper, DeCamillis said, "It's totally different from a rhythm standpoint, getting placements, all those kinds of things. It's why you see guys working at it for such a long time." …
*Wash said he doesn't anticipate issues with communication in the secondary. While starting safeties Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church were healthy throughout preseason and training camp, cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and Aaron Colvin combined to play in two preseason games. Ramsey missed the first two preseason games and the third while Bouye – who will start opposite Ramsey at outside corner – practiced during much of camp without playing in a preseason game. Colvin, the team's nickel corner, missed the first three preseason games and played about a half in the preseason finale. "They've done a lot of stuff studying-wise," Wash said. "When they weren't out there, they were definitely mentally into the practices, which is very, very important. If you're not getting physical reps, you've got to get mental reps. The reps that we're getting, we're trying to get them the things they need to see. With all of the walkthroughs and all of the other stuff, I think we'll communicate very well." …