JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Leonard Fournette was drafted to be a downhill, physical running back that can run-through tackles. That was his role at LSU. Right or wrong, Fournette left college with a reputation of not being able to catch the ball out of the back field.
In three seasons at LSU, he had a total of 41 catches. Through his first two years in Jacksonville, Fournette has proved those naysayers wrong. He has 58 catches in first 21 games in the NFL.
“I came from a running school,” said Fournette. “We ran the ball a lot. I’m not really worried about what people had to say about me not being able to catch. It’s a new year, new season. We’ll see when the season opener comes.”
Through this point of the offseason program, it looks like Fournette may play a large part in the Jaguars passing game. Quarterback Nick Foles loves to get rid of the ball quickly. Fournette will have a chance to become more of a dual-threat running back this coming season.
“Leonard and all of the running backs coming out of the backfield they’re all a threat,” said Foles. “You can ask any defender. When a running back can go out of the backfield and not only run the ball and protect but can receive as well. That’s really tough on a defense. I’ve been blessed to play with a lot of young running backs that have made me look good.”
Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo says that they’ve installed 90-95% of their offense. Historically, running backs have had large roles in his passing game. Last season Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook caught 40 passes in 11 games. DeFilippo was fired as the Vikings play caller after 13 games. But that provides an idea of how Fournette could be used in the passing game.
“To your point about catching the football, we’re getting those guys out there early,” said DeFilippo back during the Jaguars organized team activities. “I don’t want to say we’re force feeding it, but we’re forcing those guys to get out of their comfort zone a little bit more then maybe what they are used to…to get them used to seeing if they can do those jobs.”