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FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Jags' Fournette focuses on 'clean start' after dismal season

Fri May 24 3:46pm ET
By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer

Players: Nick Foles, Alfred Blue, Carlos Hyde, Corey Grant, T.J. Yeldon , Leonard Fournette

Jacksonville Jaguars running backs coach Terry Robiskie, center, talks with running backs Ryquell Armstead (30) and Leonard Fournette (27) during an NFL football practice, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)


Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) carries the ball during an NFL football practice, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Leonard Fournette slipped off his sweaty cleats, signed each one and then handed them to a young fan after practice.

The youngster carefully walked away with Fournette's gold-colored shoes, making sure not to touch the drying ink. After all, the memorabilia could appreciate in value if the Jacksonville Jaguars running back gets his NFL career turned around.

Fournette spoke publicly for the first time in nearly six months Friday, finally addressing the worst season in his 24 years and everything that's happened since. He was injured, suspended and on the bench in crunch time. He was fined, criticized and admittedly not in ideal shape late in the year.

The Jaguars voided the remaining guarantees in his rookie contract following his one-game suspension for fighting, and personnel chief Tom Coughlin ripped him for being ''disrespectful'' and ''selfish'' during the season finale. Adding to the chaos, Fournette was arrested last month for driving with a suspended license.

''It's a new year,'' Fournette said following practice. ''We have a new team. We're focused and we have new players. It's a new year for us, so it's a new everything. It's a clean start for a lot of us guys. We're not focused on the past. The past's the past.

''Some things I did, whether it was offseason and I admitted to, yeah I was wrong. We moved on. We're in a good place right now.''

The Jaguars were in a tough spot without Fournette last season, unable to run the ball with any consistency after building the offense around the former LSU star and fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft.

He finished with 439 yards rushing and five touchdowns in eight games after running for 1,040 yards and nine scores as a rookie. He's missed 11 games in two seasons, including two because of suspensions.

''Everybody has a bad year, so I don't feel like I've got to prove myself to no one,'' Fournette said.

The team probably feels otherwise.

Jacksonville completely revamped its running backs room around Fournette, firing position coach Tyrone Wheatley and parting ways with backups T.J. Yeldon, Carlos Hyde and Corey Grant.

Coach Doug Marrone hired 64-year-old Terry Robiskie, who, like Fournette, was born and raised in New Orleans and attended LSU, as running backs coach. They also added veteran Alfred Blue (another LSU alum) to be Fournette's backup.

And even though they signed quarterback and former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to upgrade one of the NFL's most anemic offenses, Fournette is still expected to be the centerpiece under new coordinator John DeFilippo.

''He's going to be a major reason for where our offense goes,'' DeFilippo said. ''I'm not going to sugarcoat that. Leonard Fournette needs to be a big part of this offense. The harder he works, which he is right now, I think that's not only going to be good for our offense, but good for our team.''

Fournette said he weighs 226 pounds, down 14 pounds from the end of last season.

He spent part of this offseason training in Dallas and then went to Wyoming to work with his college strength and conditioning coach in hopes of getting back to his ''foundation.''

''I kind of put a lot on myself this offseason, like getting my body right,'' Fournette said. ''Just mentally coming back ready to play football. No distractions. Leaving the outside stuff where it's at. I think that's one of the biggest things that us players. ... We face a lot of problems, you know what I mean?

''We have a lot of issues, and if we're not right with ourselves and then we come out on this field, we're not going to be right in the game.''

Getting Fournette back on track is one of Jacksonville's top priorities. Coaches believe he's got the talent to be one of the best backs in the league - a guy whose worn cleats would be a collector's item - but they have to keep him healthy, in shape, motivated and focused.

''Those young guys at that age, I always think they need a little more push, a little bit more guidance, a little bit more leadership,'' Robiskie said. ''Leonard is one of those guys. He's got the ambition. He's got the heart.

''I think he wants to win. I don't think he wants to win a game. I think he wants to be a part of something special. I think he wants to win a Super Bowl, and I think the year before last, that little taste that he had, I think that kind of helped push it a little bit more.''

Player Notes
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Andre Roberts Jun 13 11:53pm ET

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Matt Barkley Jun 13 10:53pm ET

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Cameron Meredith Jun 13 10:33pm ET

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Geronimo Allison Jun 13 10:13pm ET

Green Bay Packers WR Geronimo Allison is 'likely slated as the slot man' in three-receiver sets, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.

Fantasy Spin: Allison had a productive start to last season before suffering an injury, and while Marquez Valdes-Scantling may have the inside track on the No. 2 receiver job, the Green Bay passing attack could support three viable fantasy options. Consider Allison a WR4 with upside.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling Jun 13 10:03pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: It sounds like Valdes-Scantling has the inside track to the No. 2 receiver job. It remains to be seen if he will take the role and run with it, but the upside that comes with being one of Aaron Rodgers' top targets makes him a WR4 candidate.

Robby Anderson Jun 13 9:23pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: The nature of Anderson's injury remains unclear, but unless it lingers into training camp, fantasy owners shouldn't be too concerned. Anderson started to connect with Sam Darnold on some big plays late last season, and he's a WR3 candidate in 2019 as the top option in the passing attack.

Leonard Fournette Jun 13 9:03pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Fournette has just 48 career catches for 487 yards and two touchdowns over the first two seasons of his career. Foles most memorably hooked up with RB Corey Clement four times for 100 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl LII. Fournette could be a huge steal if he continues to go in the third round of PPR drafts.

Marlon Mack Jun 13 8:23pm ET

Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack is being viewed by head coach Frank Reich as the team's workhorse in the backfield, according to Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star.

Fantasy Spin: Mack rushed for 908 yards and nine touchdowns last season while adding 103 yards and one touchdown as a receiver. Nyheim Hines should handle the majority of third-down duties in 2019, but Mack could still return plenty of value as a high-end RB2.

LeSean McCoy Jun 13 7:43pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: McCoy totaled just 752 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns last season. Both numbers were career worsts as he played in 14 games but made just 13 starts. He remains No. 1 on the Bills' depth chart, but he'll be competing against veteran RB Frank Gore and third-round rookie Devin Singletary. He's fallen into RB4 territory but could prove to be a steal at a mid-round price.

Darius Slay Jun 13 6:43pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Goedert, who caught 33 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie after being chosen 49th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, will remain behind Zach Ertz on the Eagles' depth chart as a sophomore. He could prove to be a viable TE2 in deeper leagues and would be an instant must-add should Ertz miss any time.

David Moore Jun 13 6:23pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Moore caught just 26 of 53 targets last season but turned those into 445 yards and five touchdowns. He projects behind Tyler Lockett and rookie D.K. Metcalf on the depth chart, but he's worth a late-round pick as a WR5 as the Seahawks begin life without Doug Baldwin.

Theo Riddick Jun 13 5:53pm ET

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Kerryon Johnson Jun 13 5:53pm ET

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Demarcus Lawrence Jun 13 5:53pm ET

Dallas Cowboys CB Byron Jones (hip) and DE DeMarcus Lawrence (shoulder) are expected to begin training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

DeSean Jackson Jun 13 5:43pm ET

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Lamar Jackson Jun 13 5:43pm ET

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Travin Dural Jun 13 4:53pm ET

New Orleans Saints WR Travin Dural was waived Thursday, June 13.

C.J. Prosise Jun 13 4:43pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB C.J. Prosise (hamstring) reportedly left practice with a tight hamstring Thursday, June 13, according to head coach Pete Carroll.