JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser’s Monday notes and observations as the Jaguars move on from a victory over Indianapolis Sunday and begin preparing for the Tennessee Titans Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee
1.Leonard Fournette as expected was a topic Monday, with the second-year running back returning to the Jaguars after serving a one-game suspension Sunday in a 6-0 victory over the Colts. Fournette had been suspended by the NFL for his involvement in a multiplayer altercation the previous Sunday in a loss to the Buffalo Bills. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone on Monday reiterated what he said the previous week – that Fournette will remain a team captain unless players decide otherwise. “It’s not something I can take away because it was voted by the team,” Marrone said. Marrone was asked if players had approached him about rescinding Fournette’s captaincy. “No one has come to me,” Marrone said. Fournette rushed for 95 yards in each of the Jaguars’ two games before the suspension; the Jaguars rushed for 79 yards Sunday.
2.Jalen Ramsey’s status may be more certain this week. The third-year All-Pro cornerback was questionable entering this past weekend with a knee injury but played through the injury with two pass breakups and a game-ending tackle Sunday. Marrone, who last week expressed a “high level” of concern about Ramsey’s status, said he was less concerned this week. “I feel good about him this week because he’s from Tennessee,” Marrone said with a laugh. While the Jaguars did not conduct a formal practice Monday, they released an injury report as mandated under NFL rules because they’re playing Thursday. Ramsey was listed as “limited” along with safety Cody Davis (hamstring), offensive lineman Josh Walker (foot/ankle), right tackle Jermey Parnell (knee), defensive end Calais Campbell (ankle). Cornerbacks Tre Herndon (ankle), Quenton Meeks (knee) and linebacker Lerentee McCray (hamstring) were listed as full and wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. (quadriceps) and nose tackle Abry Jones (shin) were listed as not practicing. Chark has missed the last two games and Jones left Sunday’s game with the injury. “It’s a contusion – nothing structurally damaged,” Marrone said of Jones.
3.Marrone had this to say Monday when asked about quarterback Cody Kessler throwing downfield: “We’re hoping to be able to do a better job of it. Obviously, that’s what we’re looking for.” Kessler, who made his first start for the Jaguars Sunday after replacing longtime starter Blake Bortles, completed 18 of 24 passes for 150 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions. Kessler often checked down to backs and tight ends, and both he and Marrone after the game discussed the need to throw downfield more. “There were a couple,” Marrone said Monday. “I’m sure he wished he had them back. That happens with a lot of things. There’s a lot of things I think a lot of people want to take back and do a better job of when the game is over, even more so when you go back and look at the tape.” Kessler, making his first start since November 2016 with Cleveland, was sacked three times and seemed to run quickly from the pocket at times. “I thought of it as a point of not forcing anything and turning the ball over,” Marrone said, adding that he preferred Kessler scrambling rather than throwing interceptions. “But I’d like to be able to get the ball down the field,” Marrone said.
4.Ronnie Harrison’s first NFL start won’t be his last, and the rookie continued to draw praise Monday for his performance Sunday. The third-round selection from the University of Alabama registered three tackles, a quarterback hurry, a tackle for loss and a sack that ended the Colts’ second-to-last drive late in the fourth quarter. “Early on you could see it was his first time playing, meaning that hey, a little bit late getting lined up and things of that nature,” Marrone said. “Once the game started going he did a nice job.” Harrison had played the first 11 games as the nickel back in the team’s so-called “big-nickel package,” with his snaps being reduced over the previous three games because the team went away from the package after the midseason bye week. Harrison started Sunday ahead of veteran Barry Church at strong safety. “I’ve been preaching and praising that guy,” safety Tashaun Gipson said. “He never let the moment get too big for him. It wasn’t different for me from playing with B-Church (Barry Church). From a mental standpoint, he stepped in right away and was comfortable. He had to get his feet wet. Playing “Bruno” 15-to-20 snaps compared to playing all 75-to-80 snaps obviously is different. He seized the moment. Obviously, he had a big play for us at the end. You can’t script a better first start. He’s a huge talent.”