JACKSONVILLE – He's clean-shaven – for now – and he's having fun.
That was part of what we learned Friday when Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette spoke to the media for the first time during 2017 organized team activities. We learned this, too:
Fournette is realizing the NFL is a very fast game. Already.
"You have to pick up on things a lot faster than you did in college," Fournette told reporters shortly after the Jaguars 2017 OTA 3 at EverBank Field Friday.
"The game is faster than college; (the hole) closes up so fast and everybody on the football field is great. You can't take that for granted."
Fournette, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, not unexpectedly didn't say much newsworthy during his podium appearance Friday. This is, after all, non-padded work and he has just finished his third professional practice.
But Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said he liked a few things he has seen from Fournette thus far, particularly as a receiver out of the backfield.
"He had one drop today, but I think that's the only drop he's had since we've been out there," Marrone said. "When people were talking about, 'Can he catch? ...' The one thing I have been impressed with is he's caught the ball well."
Marrone said catching is easier in non-padded work than live situations, but said it appears Fournette's hands can translate into game situations.
"At the end of the day, I'm thinking, 'Well, if I can go out there and catch a ball, I know no one's going to hit me, it's not contact so maybe it's easy, but all of a sudden when someone can hit me maybe I won't catch it as well,''' Marrone said. "That's always in the back of my mind, but it doesn't look that way so I give him that."
Fournette spoke to the media for about 10 minutes Friday, and said he has developed a good working relationship with veteran running back Chris Ivory – "without him, I'd be lost right now," he said – and that he also likes his development as a receiver.
"I think I'm doing a good job catching the ball, catching it at its highest point, concentrating on it," he said. "As running backs, we work on that every day."
Fournette also commented on appearing at OTAs without the full beard he previously sported through the late April draft and rookie minicamp.
Images from Friday's OTA practice.
"They didn't make me; I cut it on my own," he said with a smile. "I got tired of it, man. The heat is different than Louisiana. I think it's more dry here, so I cut it. It's going to grow back, though."
Also around the Jaguars Friday:
*Marrone said he likes what he has seen thus far from defensive end Calais Campbell, who signed with the Jaguars in March as an unrestricted free agent from Arizona: "Couldn't ask for anything better. I really couldn't." Campbell has a sterling reputation on and off the field in NFL circles, and Marrone said he heard nothing but positives upon signing him. Marrone said while it's common to hear such things about a player and be disappointed, such isn't the case with Campbell. "This one, this story … I will say it's true," he said. "I couldn't be more pleased. I really couldn't. I think he's outstanding." …
*Marrone also lauded second-year cornerback Doran Grant Friday, saying "he had an unbelievable bounce back today. From yesterday to today … I mean he had about three or four pass breakups today and I told him to break down the team. He was on fire today. I was happy to see that. I always try to reward people who are able to have a good practice or come back and do a good thing. He's a guy that's been up and down, kind of buried, no one knows about him and then all of a sudden today everyone was like who is that?" …
*The following players continued to be out of practice Friday: running back T.J. Yeldon, cornerback A.J. Bouye, cornerback Aaron Colvin, safety Barry Church and safety Tashaun Gipson. Rookie running back Tim Cook and rookie wide receiver Kenneth Walker are not in attendance because of NCAA rules prohibiting players from participating in offseason programs until their schools finish spring classes.
*Guard A.J. Cann missed practice Friday for "personal reasons." He worked Tuesday and Thursday during OTA 1 and OTA 2. …
*Left tackle Branden Albert missed a third consecutive OTA practice after also not attending Tuesday and Thursday. He has not participated in the offseason program since being acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins in March. All offseason work until the June minicamp is voluntary. …