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Week in focus: High expectations


JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the week that was around the Jaguars with a focus on the team's rookie minicamp and Head Coach Doug Marrone's Saturday media availability …

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Cam Robinson never has lost much, and he doesn't want to start now.

Leonard Fournette sees things similarly, and the No. 4 selection in the 2017 NFL Draft said he knows he's in Jacksonville to help turn around a franchise that has struggled recently.

There indeed was a sense of lockstep this past weekend when the Jaguars' first two 2017 draft selections discussed expectations:

They know the Jaguars' recent history.

And they want to do what they can to make the future different than the recent past.

"They picked us players for a reason," Fournette said Saturday during 2017 Jaguars rookie minicamp. "They believe in us and of course we have to believe in ourselves that we can turn anything around so that's what they drafted me, Cam [Robinson], Dede [Westbrook] …

"They drafted us for a reason because they see some potential in us."

Three of the Jaguars' top four selections in the '17 draft indeed share the common thread of being elite, high-profile players from elite, high-profile college programs. Fournette, a running back from Louisiana State, was one of the top players at his position since he entered college. The same was true of Robinson, a left tackle from Alabama and the Jaguars' second-round selection. And it was true, too, of Westbrook – a fourth-round wide receiver from Oklahoma and a Heisman Trophy finalist this past season.

"I know that's something me and Leonard talked about as soon as – I know I talked to him right after the draft," Robinson said. "Both of us come from programs where losing is not really part of our culture. It's not really part of what we do.

"It's something we both talked about: trying to help change the culture around here. You want to have a winning feel because that's all we're used to and all we've ever known. I think a big part of it is just it being with what we're doing now. Coming out and having good practices, having good effort at practice, good tempo at practices. You just want the whole morale of the team to change."

These are similar words to those spoken by cornerback Jalen Ramsey following last year's NFL Draft. And words from rookies, of course, only go so far to shaping NFL seasons.

Still, the Jaguars are stockpiling a lot of young talent that has had a lot of success.

And they remain focused on ensuring there's more success to come.



*Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone was clear Saturday about what he expected to glean from rookie minicamp. Mostly, he said he was looking for red flags on players and said he was pleased to not see such things from the rookie class. He did say he liked what he saw mentally from Fournette. "The thing that I look for is how quickly he can respond to [running backs] Coach [Tyrone] Wheatley and Coach [offensive coordinator Nathaniel] Hackett when they do the drills," Marrone said. "I thought he did a nice job. … It's difficult for me to say, 'Hey, they've arrived. They're here.''' …

*Robinson is expected to compete with veteran Branden Albert for the starting left tackle position, a competition that in the short term could consist of just Robinson. Albert, acquired in a trade with Miami in March, isn't yet competing in the voluntary offseason program – reportedly because he wants the Jaguars to restructure his contract. Robinson said starting at left tackle Week 1 would be "a big deal. That's not what I'm basing everything off of right now. … I'm just trying to get in and prove myself to the coaches and to my teammates, prove that I am able to do that, if that's what's needed of me. I'm not really putting any expectations on Day One or starting or anything like that. I'm just coming in and just working." …

*Fournette said he plans to stay in Jacksonville this week, and that he plans to work with Westbrook leading to the opening of Phase 3 of the team's offseason program next Monday. "Me and Dede are going to stay here, get more into the playbook, get more understanding because we're not done," Fournette said. "In order to be the best, you have to sacrifice a lot of things.'' …

*Fournette also discussed his expectations for his role as a rookie, saying while he "definitely" expects to be the No. 1 back, "I'm not going to automatically say that, I'm still learning from the vets. I know T.J. [Yeldon]. I know Chris [Ivory]. I've known them since I was high school. I've known T.J. since high school and so has Chris, but just going in under those guys and learning from them as much as I can." …

*Asked in which offensive sets the Jaguars worked Fournette over the weekend, Marrone replied, "Everything." He added, "He worked under center, we worked two-back – we had fullbacks in, obviously – we worked single-back. We worked it all."

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