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Jacksonville Jaguars

Healthy Ivory making good case for lead back role with Jaguars

Roy Cummings

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Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

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.

 

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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