INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Fred Taylor believes in Leonard Fournette.
The Jaguars' all-time leading rusher also said he's glad he now may have a chance to help Fournette – or at least to be an influence.
Taylor, who is in Indianapolis this week working with the running back draft class at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, said newly-hired Jaguars running backs coach Terry Robiskie has spoken to him about speaking to the team's running backs on occasion moving forward.
"It means a lot," Taylor said, adding that he was particularly honored that Robiskie extended the invitation. "He's definitely well-respected, and truly a Hall-of-Fame position coach."
Taylor said he and Robiskie have met on several occasions and know each other through former Jaguars running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu – who coached Taylor with the Jaguars from 2005-2009 and who also was an influence during former Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew's early NFL seasons.
Robiskie, hired in January as the Jaguars' running backs coach to replace Tyrone Wheatley, is one of the NFL's longest-tenured and most-respected assistants.
He will enter his 37th consecutive season as an NFL assistant next season, having previously coached with the Los Angeles Raiders, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills. He spent last season as the Bills' wide receivers coach.
"The level of respect my running backs coach (Polamalu) has for him and what he taught, what Terry was able to teach … it's just a no-brainer," Taylor said.
Taylor said he believes Robiskie can have a positive influence on Fournette.
"Leonard doesn't need a babysitter; he needs somebody who's going to nurture him and teach him how to be a young man – and how to be a pro," Taylor said. "In this league, nobody's going to baby sit, but you have somebody who has a great track record and I think Leonard will be able to look at Coach Robiskie and say, 'You know what? This is different feel.'''
Fournette, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, rushed for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie before rushing for 439 yards and five touchdowns this past season. Fournette missed seven games with injuries and was suspended for an early December victory over Indianapolis following his involvement in an in-game fight at Buffalo the previous week. He also missed the season finale, and Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin issued a statement calling Fournette's sideline behavior in that game "selfish."
"I'm not knocking Ty [Wheatley] or anything, but sometimes change is intriguing," Taylor said. "It's invigorating, and you never know what the response will be. I think Leonard will respond and understand that people believe in him and they just want to get the best out of him.
"They're not saying, 'You're terrible.' Nobody's saying that. People just want you to reach your greatest potential. That's very important. That's the bottom line."
Taylor said working a second consecutive year as part of the league's program to have NFL Legends mentor draftable rookies at the combine was again an opportunity he appreciated.
"It's good," he said. "A lot of times I wish I would have had something like this. All of the things I ran into throughout my career – the bad financial people – those are obstacles that happen. This is something they put in place to try and circumvent a lot of those distractions and let the guys know, 'Look, this is about you. This is the biggest platform.'
"We want to tell them about the league values – just about life, everything in general."