'Healthier' Leonard Fournette ready to rumble for Jags

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If the Jaguars plan to return to the AFC title game, they'll need to carbon copy last year's antics: a smothering defense and a punishing ground game.

The key to Jacksonville's run attack remains Leonard Fournette, the bruising, big-bodied back who gashed teams for 1,000-plus yards as a rookie.

Fournette operated as a rough-and-tumble, tackle-breaking workhorse, but dealt with a string of lower-body injuries that slowed his roll down the stretch and kept him at 3.9 yards per carry on the year. After playing close to 235 pounds last season, the power back is hoping his weight loss -- he's down to 223 pounds -- will help.

"I feel healthier," Fournette said this week, per The Florida Times-Union. "I want to be great. That's my weight -- what I felt best at in college my sophomore year when I was up for the Heisman. I just want to take it back there."

It's August, and this early morning post has the vibe of yet another trope-stuffed narrative, but teammates see a difference.

"Yeah, I feel like he's faster, just from seeing him catching the ball and exploding," said defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. "I've seen him a couple of times, he caught a couple of routes and just was hitting it down the sideline. I can tell he's been working hard. I'm definitely proud of him as well."

It shows commitment from Fournette to maximize his body ahead of what amounts to a critical campaign for the Jaguars. Backs that blaze out of the gate come September are often those who use the quiet months to wind into tip-top shape.

A leaner, quicker Fournette could prove to be a weapon on passing downs, too, with the Times-Union noting the runner has been a popular target of Blake Bortles in camp.

He'll need to do it all for a Jaguars team that rolls into the season with the same identity and game-plan as last year: defense and ground game -- until the end.

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