JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Leonard Fournette has yet to put on shoulder pads or participate in a full-contact practice with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he believes he has a pretty good feel for the level of physicality of the NFL.
“A lot of those guys are strong and fast,” Fournette said Thursday after the team’s final minicamp practice. “… The first day in pads, it’s going to be crazy. Instead of me running towards [defensive end] Calais [Campbell] and stopping, I have to really block him now.
“That’s one of the things that’s in the back of my head. It should be fun going out there, getting better, competing with each other, getting each other better. I love this team.”
It has been hard for the Jaguars to truly evaluate the 6-foot-1, 228-pound Fournette in OTAs and minicamp because the players are only in helmets and cannot have contact. They like what they’ve seen from the former LSU standout, but it won’t be until training camp begins on July 27 that the fourth overall pick can really shine.
Fournette ran for 3,830 yards and 40 touchdowns in three seasons at LSU, and YouTube has numerous highlight videos of him running over defenders. Even though he did that in the SEC, the NFL is at another level. Yet his position coach feels that Fournette will have no trouble adjusting.
“You want that confidence,” said Tyrone Wheatley, who was a first-round draft pick in 1995 and rushed for 4,962 yards and 40 touchdowns in 10 seasons in the NFL. “You don’t want to kill that. You want that confidence, but does he really have an idea of it? I would say yes. Nowadays with the collective bargaining agreement the way things are now, the way football is now, I would say yeah, he does.”
The Jaguars are expected to give Fournette a heavy workload in 2017. That may mean averaging 15-20 touches per game as the Jaguars try to transition to a run-heavy offense – QB Blake Bortles has averaged 37.1 pass attempts per game in his thee-year career – under new head coach Doug Marrone.
To prepare for that, Fournette said he’s going to remain in Jacksonville for most of the next five weeks getting ready for training camp.
“I’m going to be here for most of the time lifting weights, running, conditioning,” he said. “I know how important this month is going to be off for us to just stay in shape, the mental things, learning the playbook more and more until I have it like it’s the back of my hand.”