Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette is happy to have a “clean start.”
Fournette was a major disappointment in 2018 for a team that greatly underachieved with a 5-11 mark one season after reaching the AFC Championship Game. But he has had time to decipher his poor campaign and feels he is back on track.
“I’m happy, especially the way I’m here working with my team right now,” Fournette told reporters Friday after Jacksonville’s third organized team activity. “It’s a new year. We have a new team. We’re focused, and we have new players. It’s a new year for us. So it’s a new everything. It’s a clean start for a lot of us guys.
“We’re not focused on the past. The past’s the past. Some things I did, whether it was offseason and I admitted to, yeah, I was wrong. We moved on. We’re in a good place right now.”
Fournette rushed for just 439 yards and five touchdowns in eight games last season after having 1,040 yards and nine scores in 13 games as a rookie in 2017.
An early-season hamstring injury derailed Fournette and he ended up missing seven games because of ailments and another due to a suspension.
The bad fortune continued into the offseason when Fournette was arrested and charged with speeding and driving with a suspended license.
But in terms of offseason workouts, Fournette decided not to train in his hometown of New Orleans. He instead worked out at the University of Wyoming where Ben Iannacchione works as the director of sports performance.
Iannacchione worked at LSU when Fournette was the Tigers’ star tailback.
“I kind of put a lot on myself this offseason, like getting my body right,” Fournette said. “Just mentally coming back ready to play football. No distractions. Leaving the outside stuff where it’s at. I think that’s one of the biggest things that us players have a problem with.
“We face a lot of problems, you know what I mean? We have a lot of issues ourselves. And if we’re not right with ourselves and then we come out on this field, we’re not going to be right in the game.”
That was certainly an issue for Fournette last season. His suspension was for leaving the bench and getting in a fight with Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Shaq Lawson. He also was caught on video yelling at a fan in the stands during a December loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Jaguars vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin publicly ripped Fournette — and fellow running back T.J. Yeldon — for appearing disinterested during the season finale against the Houston Texans. Fournette was inactive due to a foot injury.
Jacksonville is looking for a bounce-back season from Fournette and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo is interested in making him the focal point of the attack.
“I’m going to call it what it is: He’s going to be a major reason for where our offense goes,” DeFilippo told reporters. “I’m not going to sugarcoat that. Leonard Fournette needs to be a big part of this offense. The harder he works, which he is right now, I think that’s not only going to be good for our offense but good for our team.”
–Field Level Media