2018 was a second season to forget for Jaguars star running back Leonard Fournette. He knows and the team knows that he has to get back to being a running back he was in his breakout 2017 rookie season in North Florida.
However, there’s a great subplot unfolding in Fournette’s attempt to recapture the speed, power and “mojo” that got him drafted in the top five of the 2017 class, and it’s has taken him to a very interesting place….
Yes, in monitoring his social media Wednesday and Thursday, Fournette has not been bashful about revealing that he’s working out with the University of Wyoming football team and staff in their facility on campus:
— 7⃣ Leonard Fournette (@_fournette) February 28, 2019
Yes, a great distance from New Orleans and even greater from Jacksonville, Fournette has ventured to the “Wild, Wild West” to be reunited with his former LSU assistant strength coach Ben Iannacchione.
After getting permission from Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl to work out with the team, Fournette has been there for over a week, now.
Iannacchione talked to Jacksonville.com Jaguars beat writer Philip Heilmann on Thursday about reuniting with a former Bayou Bengals star.
And he told the paper:
“The Leonard I see now — and, again, I wasn’t around Leonard last year, still followed his career, noticed he missed some games last year — but the Leonard that’s here in Wyoming right now is very similar to the Leonard that I had at LSU. If he continues with this mindset and this work ethic, I think everyone in Jacksonville is going to be pleasantly surprised.”
Obviously, Fournette understands that he is at a crossroads in his Jacksonville career. As quickly as he burst out in 2017 helping Jacksonville win the division and two playoff games while rushing for over 1,000 yards, it all fizzled out in 2018.
He was injured in week one at the Gitants and missed most or all of seven of eight games to start the season for the Jaguars with an injured right hamstring. He tried to come back briefly, before being shut down for several weeks in a second attempt to get the hamstring to heal.
And that wasn’t the worst of his season.
The controversy began with a November ejection from the game at Buffalo for fighting with Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson and that was followed by a one-game suspension. The NFL suspended him for one week after the ejection.
Because of that, Jacksonville has voided the remaining $7 million in guarantees on Fournette’s rookie deal and that’s something he’s contesting through the NFLPA with the league.
Fournette was also inactive with an injured ankle for the season finale in Houston, and was reprimanded publicly by VP of football Tom Coughlin for his sidelines disinterest, especially while the Jaguars had the ball on offense.
There has been speculation that the Jaguars wold entertain trading Fournette, if there was someone willing to part with a premium draft pick. GM Dave Caldwell danced around specific answers about Fournette at his Wednesday press conference at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Still, it’s hard to believe that the Jags would just give up on him after one lost season at 24 years old.
So needless to say, both sides want a fresh start and Fournette has gone a long way, out of the way, to try to get it.
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