The Jaguars have serious expectations and hopes for 2018. However, with those expectations come more scrutiny and Sunday at the conclusion of their practice, poor conduct of two of their players caused the team to take action against them.
First, as we wrote earlier Sunday defensive end Dante Fowler instigated a near fight with fellow lineman Yannick Ngakoue at the conclusion of practice. With numerous players involved at trying to separate the two and keep the peace, it was not a good look.
And during the video captured by Phillip Heilman of the Florida Times-Union, you could hear defensive back Jalen Ramsey screaming at him from a distance with profanity to stop taping the incident on his phone.
Well, the Jaguars moved quickly to take action against both of them. First, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport had info on Ramsey’s punishment:
#Jaguars All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey was suspended by the team for a week, sources say, after going after local media for what he believes is unfair treatment of his teammates especially Dante Fowler. He authored several tweets in support of his teammates & disdain for local media.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 12, 2018
Ramsey sent essentially a threatening tweet at Heilman, that he has since deleted.
Then, the Jaguars confirmed to Heilman that Fowler was also going to be disciplined for this week. And, that will include joint practices and then a Saturday night game with the Vikings.
The #Jaguars confirm that CB Jalen Ramsey and DE Dante Fowler have each been suspended for incidents that occurred Sunday.
— Phillip Heilman (@phillip_heilman) August 12, 2018
So, both players were immediately sent a message by VP of Football Tom Coughlin, coach Doug Marrone and the Jaguars organization that they won’t tolerate that kind of conduct.
Interestingly, coming off an All-Pro 2017, Ramsey showed up late to camp after the birth of his daughter, missing four workouts and now will miss several more and the game Saturday.
Fowler had missed all of camp, including game one last Thursday, while on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. He was just activated on Saturday. Sunday was his second practice, and near the end of it he delivered an out of bounds hit on TE James O’Shaughnessy that caused both sides of the ball to react.
This further casts Fowler’s short and long term future into question.
The team already announced earlier in the off season they were not picking up the fifth year option on his rookie deal.
The NFL then suspended Fowler one game under their conduct policy for his no contest plea to assault and battery charges from an incident last summer. Now, he can’t practice this week.
The team is scheduled to be off on Monday and it’s unclear if coach Doug Marrone will still speak with the media or will wait until Tuesday prior to their practice.
Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game
With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.
Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.
That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.
Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.
Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.
The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.
Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.
Jaguars dilemma with injuries vs preseason playing time
The Jacksonville Jaguars will play their second preseason game tonight against the Philadelphia Eagles at TIAA Bank Field. At least, some of them will play against the Eagles.
And therein lies “The Dilemma” facing coach Doug Marrone, his staff and a team trying to shake off an awful 2018 season.
How much are his guys going to play, if at all, in this second exhibition contest? This is a week after 20 of his 22 starters did not play a down in the preseason opening loss in Baltimore.
And while everybody has been looking at the possibility of former Eagles Super Bowl MVP, and now Jaguars free agent star QB, Nick Foles going against his old team, it quite possibly won’t materialize.
As Mike Dirocco, ESPN beat writer for the Jaguars, wrote about earlier this week, Foles all the conceded he may not be out there very much due to injuries on the Jaguars offensive line and concerns over being able to protect him.
However, you cannot replicate the “live fire of a game,” like in the preseason, where Foles can work on timing at full speed with his reads and throws to young receivers like D.J. Chark, DeDe Westbrook and Chris Conley.
Further, it’s not as if the Jags have a season, much less several seasons, of experience with Foles with his personnel to lean on. No, he’s trying to get used to them, and they’re trying to get used to him.
And, let’s not forget that star running back Leonard Fournette wants to have a bounce-back 2019 and he didn’t play a down last week. Yes, there were injury issues with his hamstring all last year.
So what will Marrone and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo do with Fournette tonight? This is especially with a banged up O-Line.
And, maybe it will be, a series or maybe, none at all that we see the former LSU number one pick, who wowed everyone in his rookie season of 2017.
It’s fully understood that weeks from now, this Thursday night’s second preseason game isn’t going to matter. But for right now?
The first unit Jaguars need to be able to work together under a game tested circumstance, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to do much of that in North Florida Thursday night.