Around the NFL  

 

Leonard Fournette working to raise his yards per carry

Print

The Jacksonville Jaguars immediately installed Leonard Fournette as the offensive engine in 2017, force-feeding the rookie running back 268 times in 13 games for a 20.6 average tote per contest, fourth-most in the NFL.

Facing stacked boxes by defenses daring Blake Bortles to beat them through the air, Fournette often slammed into a mass of bodies for modest gains. On the season, the rookie earned 3.9 yards per carry, which ranked 30th among running backs with 100 or more carries on the season. His average per carry landed well behind two fellow rookies, Alvin Kamara (6.1, 1st) and Kareem Hunt (4.9, 4th).

Heading into Year 2, Fournette is focused on improving his yards per carry average, but not fretting about the mediocre rookie number.

"At the end of the day, it's not about me and not about yards per carry," Fournette said back in June, via the Florida Times-Union. "It's about the wins and losses."

Fournette aided the Jags' 2017 turnaround as a workhorse back who paced the offense. He earned 100-plus yards in five games and added a TD in eight regular-season contests. Injuries, however, limited him in several games and forced him to sit out three tilts.

In an effort to stay healthy in 2018 and improve his stats, Fournette has sleeked down this offseason and plans on being lighter heading into training camp later this month.

"I feel like I play my best at that weight -- 223, 224 - that's what I played in college," Fournette said. "Why not? I don't want to be average. I want to be above average, be the greatest one to play this game. I feel lighter, quicker and I have a lot of my burst."

As much as Fournette helped improve the Jags' offense last season, Jacksonville didn't struggle in the games in which the running back missed -- going 3-0 and outscoring opponents 95-14. With bigger aspirations in 2018 and some question marks in the passing game, the Jags need an explosive performance from a leaner Fournette and the rushing attack to carry the offense again.

Print