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Jaguars leadership evolving as season wears on

Fournette, Hayden, Harrison among players speaking out more

Jaguars nickel back, D. J. Hayden, left, and safety Ronnie Harrison, middle, have both become more visible leaders on the Jaguars defense as the season has progressed. (photo by George Varkanis)
Jaguars nickel back, D. J. Hayden, left, and safety Ronnie Harrison, middle, have both become more visible leaders on the Jaguars defense as the season has progressed. (photo by George Varkanis) (George Varkanis)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Who steps up?

That's a question for any team in transition. For the Jaguars, it's been a question created by the departures of numerous leaders. Since the offseason, Telvin Smith and Jalen Ramsey have departed. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus may miss more than a month after surgery for a core muscle injury and quarterback Nick Foles has been sidelined with an injury. In their place, the Jaguars' leadership has evolved.

On offense, Gardner Minshew has had to take up part of the mantle of leadership with Foles on the mend. But Leonard Fournette has also become a more vocal leader this year.

"There are plenty of guys (who have stepped up)," Leonard Fournette said. "It's all about your companions trusting you. It might be about your play or what you say. At the end of the day, it's about doing the right things, being there on time and playing the right way. All of that goes into being a leader."

On defense, the Jaguars have seen a different side of D.J. Hayden, who has become more vocal. Second-year safety Ronnie Harrison has become a more vital player for the defense and Myles Jack continues to play a bigger leadership role in the linebackers. 

"Telvin was one of my close boys. The last two years, you always had (Tashaun Gipson) and Barry (Church) back there talking, It's really crazy not having those guys talking," said linebacker Donald Payne, resigned by the team this week after being let go in the offseason. "(In the linebackers' room) since Telvin has left, since a lot of our leaders have left, (Jack) has been the one to step up, even though he's younger than me."

Those leaders, along with established veterans like Calais Campbell and Brandon Linder have given the Jaguars a different voice than in past years. Much of that can be attributed to the trade of Ramsey to the Rams. The outspoken cornerback was the driving force behind the Jaguars' trash-talking defense in 2017. This version of the Jaguars defensive backfield figures to be a less loquacious group. The 


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