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RB Leonard Fournette: Confident, ready


JACKSONVILLE – He's back, and Leonard Fournette feels good about that.

He's confident, too – and when discussing the Jaguars' 2017 first-round selection Monday afternoon, confidence was the norm.

Fournette is back practicing, and he's increasing repetitions.

And he's very confident for Week 1.

Fournette, the No. 4 overall selection in the '17 draft, has missed the last two preseason games with a foot injury. He was asked Monday if he believes he will play against the Houston Texans in the '17 regular-season opener.

"Most definitely," Fournette said Monday as the Jaguars prepared to play the Atlanta Falcons in the preseason finale Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Fournette, who rushed for 31 yards on nine carries in the Jaguars' preseason-opening victory at New England, returned to practice Saturday and has practiced full since. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone on Monday said he liked what he has seen from Fournette since he returned.

Marrone said both Fournette and wide receiver Marqise Lee – also out the last two preseason games – have been getting extra repetitions at the end of practice in recent days.

"They look good," Marrone said. "They're doing everything they have to do. They've done well. They've competed. They're in shape, working extremely hard. We've got them some extra reps, things of that nature, in the drills just to make sure they are getting caught up to everyone else."

Of Fournette specifically, Marrone said, "You always have concerns when you don't know a player. It's a lot easier when you've been around players and you know what it takes for them to get ready. There's a lot of talk of what do you think he needs. What's going on? Let's go see it. Let's go and work. 

"Obviously, today he really did get a lot of extra work.  He looked good."

Marrone was also asked if he expected Lee and Fournette to play against Houston Week 1.

"I've got to say, 'We'll see,' but as far as I'm concerned … yeah," Marrone said.

Marrone on Monday said he has yet to decide if Fournette will play in Thursday's preseason finale. Starters and front-line players often do not play in NFL preseason finales as teams try to rest players and prepare for the regular-season opener.

If Fournette doesn't play Thursday, that would mean entering his first NFL game with nine total preseason carries and a 31-day break since his last game repetitions.

Fournette, who said he is confident and comfortable in the offense from practice and film work, said the limited game work doesn't worry him.

"I know what I'm capable of, and also this team," Fournette said. "I know the hard work we put in throughout our training camp and I have no second guesses."

He also said watching the Jaguars' preseason games from the press box helped. He said he never had watched a game from that perspective.

"It helped me a lot – watching the safeties, the linebackers, their movements," he said. "Everything happens for a reason. God doesn't make a mistake."

Fournette, who laughingly said he couldn't remember the last time he'd watched his team play while healthy, said he hoped to play at least briefly Thursday.

"Hopefully coach will put me in," he said. "We'll see: a drive or two, just to get back into the rhythm."

The Jaguars in Fournette's absence have struggled to run the last two games. Jaguars running backs rushed for 30 yards on 17 carries in the Preseason Week 2 loss to Tampa Bay. The team's backs rushed for 107 yards on 23 carries against Carolina, with 51 of those yards coming on a run on a fake punt by running back Corey Grant.

"Everybody has bad games," Fournette said. "Nobody's perfect. You're going to have some hiccups sometimes, but you have to keep fighting through it. We don't have to have a big home run every time."

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