JACKSONVILLE – It was a goal among other goals. It was also a lofty goal.
Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette in his first two NFL seasons missed 11 of 32 regular-season games. Some absences were because of off-field issues. Some were because of injuries.
The hope this season was to get that number to zero.
Mission accomplished, pretty much.
Fournette, who missed nine games because of injuries in 2017 and 2018, has missed none this season. He has not been listed on the injury report and has missed no practices, and it remains that way entering Sunday's regular-season finale.
"That was our goal going in," Marrone said Tuesday as the Jaguars (5-10) prepared to play the Indianapolis Colts (7-8) at TIAA Bank Field Sunday at 4:25 p.m.
Fournette rushed for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie, then struggled with a hamstring injury through the first half of the 2018 season and finished with 439 yards and five touchdowns rushing.
He spent much of the offseason working in Wyoming with strength and conditioning coach Ben Iannacchione – Fournette's strength coach at Louisiana State University. He has had the best season of his three-year career, rushing for 1,152 yards and three touchdowns on 265 carries.
He also has caught 76 passes for 522 yards.
"We talked to him about it prior to [the season], making sure that he was ready," Marrone said. "He did a very good job of that – being able to sustain and being in the games."
Marrone said Fournette also improved dramatically in other areas such as blocking in the backfield.
"He's done a really good job," Marrone said. "He really has. You talk about a position where durability always comes into question; I'm talking about the position in itself. He has shown that he can sustain 16 games of a very tough style of running. He has done a really good job coming of the backfield for us, with the passes. And he has improved to an excellent job in protection."
Also around the Jaguars Tuesday:
*Marrone said he expects second-year wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. to be improved Sunday, having played at less than 100 percent last Sunday at Atlanta after missing the previous game with an ankle injury. "He didn't feel like any of the routes he ran hindered him or made it worse," Marrone said. "He's better now than he was last week. I can't say if he'll be 100 percent, but he'll be better than he was last week." The second-year veteran caught two passes for 18 yards against Atlanta and needs 26 yards against Indianapolis to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in a season for the first time in his NFL career. "It's difficult as a coach," Marrone said. "You're trying to do everything you can to win games. DJ being a part of what we do is important. If those things occur when you're trying to win, then that's great. But if you're just specifically looking to do things individually, I think that can get you in trouble."
*Marrone said the only significant Jaguars injury this week involves rookie wide receiver/kick returner Michael Walker, who sustained a hamstring injury at Atlanta. Walker didn't practice Tuesday and Marrone said he believes it will be difficult for Walker to play Sunday. Marrone said he expects all other active players to be available Sunday.
*Defensive end Calais Campbell (back/shoulder) and center Brandon Linder (knee) both were expected to miss practice Tuesday, according to the pre-practice injury report; both veterans typically miss the first practice of the week for rest seasons. Ten other players were to practice limited: wide receiver Dede Westbrook (neck/shoulder), quarterback Gardner Minshew II (right shoulder), cornerback A.J. Bouye (wrist), Chark (ankle), cornerback D.J. Hayden (knee), running back Leonard Fournette (neck), defensive end Josh Allen (shoulder), left tackle Cam Robinson (knee), tight end Nick O'Leary (shoulder) and defensive tackle Abry Jones (elbow).
*Marrone also discussed the right guard position, saying that while veteran A.J. Cann took all the offensive snaps there last week he remains confident that second-year veteran Will Richardson Jr. will be a starter at some point in his career. Cann and Richardson have rotated at the spot much of the season. One time the two did not rotate was early in the season, when Richardson started two games at tackle in place of left tackle Cam Robinson, who was returning from a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament the previous season. "We have to do a good job of where we think he can play," Marrone said of Richardson. "When I went back and I looked at the games early, when he started the two games at tackle, I probably took that for granted at the time trying to survive it. When you go back and look at it, he did a good job. Now, you've got someone you have to try to figure out where to put him in the mix. That was a good situation that happened."