The future at running back in Jacksonville belongs to Leonard Fournette, the LSU product the Jaguars picked up with the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The present, however, belongs to Chris Ivory, who could grab hold of the near future as well if he continues to look as good as he has during offseason workouts this year.
Ivory struggled through a miserable first season with the Jaguars last year, when illness and ankle, knee and hamstring ailments severely limited his effectiveness.
After signing a five-year, $32 million deal to be the team’s lead back he wound up starting just one game and running the ball 117 times for 439 yards and three touchdowns.
He also fumbled the ball five times (losing it three times) and while he was better as a pass catcher (20 receptions for 186 yards) he never met the expectations the team set for him. Until now.
Jags coach Doug Marrone has been raving about Ivory’s work so far in OTAs and while it’s only OTAs, Marrone believes he’s been seeing something in Ivory that can last.
“I’m seeing the Chris Ivory that I remember from when I (was the head coach of the Bills) and we used to play against him when he was with (the) New York (Jets),’’ Marrone said last week.
That Ivory was a major dual threat as both a runner and pass catcher, and the return of that player is one of the reasons why Ivory has been taking the majority of the first-team reps in offseason workouts this spring.
The likelihood, of course, is that Fournette will eventually emerge as the lead back, perhaps as soon as the start of training camp, but if Ivory can regain his old form the Jags’ running game could be a formidable weapon.
That can only help quarterback Blake Bortles, who has had to shoulder far too much of the responsibility for moving the Jaguars down the field the last couple years.
With a sound rushing attack the Jaguars should be able run a more balanced and effective offense that will take pressure off not just Bortles but their supposedly improved defense as well.