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Mystery continues but Jaguars Fournette not likely to play

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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While they didn’t come out and say it, don’t look for Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette to play Sunday in the huge AFC Championship Game rematch with the Patriots.

Jags coach Doug Marrone has been pointing all week to the Friday practice, as the key as to whether Fournette could demonstrate that he could do something with his strained hamstring for this week’s game.

Well,  practice has come and gone, and Fournette was not able to participate in the workout. So that info alone, says that the strained hamstring is bothersome enough to keep Fournette out of the lineup this week.

The Jags are officially listing the second-year running back out of LSU as “questionable,” but that may very well it just be gamesmanship ala, Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

Fournette suffered the injury catching a pass in the second quarter of Sunday’s 20 – 15 win in New York against the Giants. He did not return.

And in his absence, backup running back T.J. Yeldon once again fared well. Yeldon continued his recent trend of filling the void both running and receiving. Sunday he finished with 51 yards on 14 carries. He also caught a one yard TD pass in the first half from Bortles.

Yeldon and third string back Corey Grant will now, apparently be more counted on for the match-up Sunday.

UPDATE: The Jaguars basically gave away that Fournette is not going to play against New England as they made this move Saturday:

Brandon Wilds ran successfully in preseason and would be an emergency option to see playing time.

A larger point in all of this is: Fournette’s injury may be minor for now and this may be the only game that he has to miss. And while it is an important early season game, if he were to go out and aggravate the hamstring worse, Fournette might be out four games, six games or more, because of it.

That’s a risk that Marrone, and the Jaguars front office have to consider strongly in trying to have him play this week.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Report- Jaguars DB Jalen Ramsey demanding trade

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The continued soap opera of Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey had another chapter on Sunday and now, the Pro Bowl defensive back has apparently demanded a trade.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport says that Ramsey’s agent contacted the club Sunday night after the team’s latest loss, 13 – 12 to the Houston Texans, wanting his client to be moved:

The latest dust-up involving the former Florida State first round pick and the club happened on the sidelines in the first quarter of the game. That’s when Ramsey was apparently upset the coach Doug Marrone did not challenge a completion to Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on a key third-down with Ramsey covering him.

Television replays showed the ball may very well have been on the ground and the pass incomplete. Marrone and Ramsey had to be separated, not once but twice, after Marrone confronted him on the bench next to teammates:

Then, Ramsey came back to argue with Marrone, while he was standing near midfield resuming his coaching duties. And, he had to be walked back to the bench area by an assistant coach.

The ongoing saga included reports last season that the Jaguars have been shopping Ramsey themselves for possible premium draft picks during a dismal 5 – 11 finish.

Ramsey was also suspended for a week of training camp a year ago for conduct detrimental to the team after he screamed at Jaguars beat reporter Philip Heilman. Heilman was filming an altercation between teammates Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler after a training camp practice.

Ramsey is making $3.6 million for this season, earlier in April the Jags picked up Ramsey’s $13.7 million option for next season.

The Jaguars send a message to their locker room last October when they dealt Fowler, former number 1 pick defensive end out of Florida to the L.A. Rams. So, it is not too far-fetched to think that VP of Football Tom Coughlin and Marrone would do the same with Ramsey soon.

However it’s not likely that something like that would happen this week, as the Jaguars are hosting the Tennessee Titans in the Thursday night game at TIAA Bank Field.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Credit Jaguars Doug Marrone for gambling on two point play

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

All too often, coaches deserve criticism for being way too conservative or not being willing to take any chances. So, when a coach does what Doug Marrone did in the final :30 Sunday in Houston, we say “raise a glass for him.”

To set the scene: the Jaguars had played a pretty subpar offensive game for much of the day behind rookie backup quarterback Gardner Minshew. However, Minshew rallied the team in the final two minutes down 13 – 6 to get into scoring range. This included Minshew scrambling on his own and running 18 yards down to the Houston at 13-yard-line with :52 left.

Then with :30 left, Minshew found second-year receiver D.J. Chark alone in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown to pull Jacksonville within one point.

And that’s when Marrone, the Jags third-year head coach, decided to gamble on trying to win the game, right then.

Marrone called for a two-point play, and it was briefly halted when Texans coach Bill O’Brien called time out. Still, after the brief break and time to think about it, Marrone stuck with his plan and did not try to tie the game with a Josh Lambo extra point.

Instead, out of the shotgun formation Minshew handed inside to power back Leonard Fournette, who was stopped by a Texans double team tackle led by safety Justin Reid, just short of the goal line.

That stop preserved the win for Houston and dropped the Jags 0-2.

After the game was done, Marrone met with the media and almost immediately was asked about the risk he took going for the two-point conversion, especially on a road. Marone answered that he had been contemplating going for two the entire time the Jags were driving inside the final two minutes.

As for Fournette, he said postgame that he felt like he had reached the ball across the goal line, but briefly, to give Jacksonville a 14 – 13 lead. Alas, the officials didn’t see it and replays couldn’t clearly show him getting the ball across.

No matter that goes as a loss, Marrone was trying to win a game that his team had no business being in.

This is especially, with the loss of QB Nick Foles to a broken clavicle last week, and then, not playing the game with the likes of DE Yannick Ngakoue, DB A.J. Bouye, WR Marqise Lee and LT Cam Robinson, who are all injured and still trying to recover.

So, shorthanded, and off a season that fell apart at 5-11 last year, Marrone sent the message to his team: “I want to win, right now.”

But. the Texans stopped it.

Yes, you can question the play call/formation to hand Fournette the ball.

However, you cannot argue with a coach showing guts to go for victory, when his team needs a spark.

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