Tue Aug 11 12:06pm ET
By MARK LONG
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Nov. 24, 2019, file photo, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) sits on the bench in the first half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, in Nashville, Tenn. Fournette used to be considered a building block in Jacksonville. Then he ended up on the trading block. Now, the bruising running back is entering the final year of his rookie contract and facing an uncertain future with the franchise. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)
In this Oct. 27, 2019, file photo, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) rushes for yardage against the New York Jets during the first half of an NFL football game, in Jacksonville, Fla. Fournette used to be considered a building block in Jacksonville. Then he ended up on the trading block. Now, the bruising running back is entering the final year of his rookie contract and facing an uncertain future with the franchise. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Leonard Fournette used to be considered a building block in Jacksonville. Then he ended up on the trading block.
Now, the bruising running back is entering the final year of his rookie contract and facing an uncertain future with the franchise.
Will he pick up Jay Gruden's offense, build on a career-high 1,152 yards rushing, become a more dependable teammate and maybe earn a long-term deal from the Jaguars or someone else? Or will he lose touches to Jacksonville's other backs and end up unceremoniously leaving the team that drafted him fourth overall in 2017?
He's most likely to end up somewhere in between.
This much is certain: Fournette realizes his NFL career is at a crossroads. He spent a good portion of his first media availability of training camp putting spin moves on talk about his play, his passion and his personality.
''I just want to address a lot of things since the media came out and said I was an angry guy,'' Fournette said Monday. ''Would you be angry if you're losing week-in and week-out? That is one of my biggest problems. I do get upset when we lose, and it takes me a while to get over it.
''I expect, just like anybody else, if you put the work in, you want the W. But a lot of times last year it didn't go like that. I guess they kind of misinterpreted that. And don't get me wrong, I was upset from the losing, but that's just the winner in me. That's any guy who plays this professional level of sports.''
Fournette's competitiveness has never been questioned. His commitment has.
He didn't know the playbook as well as expected as a rookie. He got out of shape the following year. He also has been injured, benched, suspended, called out publicly and even caught on camera in heated exchanges with coaches and teammates.
He lost his standing as a team captain in 2019, but the former LSU star bounced back with the best season of his young career. He totaled nearly 1,700 yards from scrimmage and averaged 4.9 yards a touch for an offense that ranked in the bottom half of the league in most major categories.
Still, he ended up back in the doghouse during the offseason after he posted a picture of himself with free agent quarterback Cam Newton on social media and asked whether they were going to team up in 2020.
Fans - and quite possibly coaches and teammates - took it as a shot at Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew, whom the front office had already shown a commitment to by trading Super Bowl 52 MVP Nick Foles.
''When all that was going around, I kind of took a step back from football and I had to realize it's bigger than that,'' Fournette said. ''It's a lot bigger than that. I talked to Gardner during the whole thing ... and he understood where I was coming from.''
People inside Jacksonville's facility have clearly grown tired of Fournette's antics, so much so that general manager Dave Caldwell made him available during the NFL draft. Caldwell got no worthwhile offers for a 25-year-old back with nearly 4,000 yards from scrimmage, 19 touchdowns and just one fumble in three seasons.
Still, it could have served as a wake-up call for Fournette, especially after Jacksonville declined to pick up the fifth-year option in his rookie deal.
Fournette responded by going on a ''world tour'' of workouts aimed at slimming down and speeding up.
''Wherever the `corona' was at, I ran away from it,'' he said, adding that he spent time in Atlanta, Baton Rouge and Dallas before ending up back home in New Orleans.
He's back in Jacksonville now with plenty to prove, especially considering the running market will be flooded in 2021. Todd Gurley, Kenyan Drake, Tevin Coleman, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Alvin Kamara, Marlon Mack and Aaron Jones are scheduled to be free agents. And Oklahoma State's Chuba Hubbard, Clemson's Travis Etienne, Alabama's Najee Harris and Mississippi State's Kylin Hill lead a promising group of college backs.
Fournette, meanwhile, is trying to clear the air.
''I'm not a jerk,'' he said. ''But when it comes to football and winning, I'm all in for that.''
Coach Doug Marrone hasn't spoken to Fournette about his fragmented past, his faux pas with Newton or his future with the Jags.
''He's done a nice job. He looks good. He's in shape. He's been working hard,'' Marrone said. ''He hasn't said anything. He's been working hard. ... He's done a really good job. I mean, he looks good, he really does when he's out there.''
Sunday Morning Update: Week 3
Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard posted a total of 11 stops with a tackle for loss and a pass defensed in Week 3 against the New York Jets.
Indianapolis Colts CB T.J. Carrie finished with four tackles, a pass defensed and a 47-yard interception return for touchdown in Week 3 against the New York Jets.
Indianapolis Colts CB Xavier Rhodes finished with a solo tackle, two passes defensed and a 44-yard interception return for touchdown in Week 3 against the New York Jets.
Indianapolis Colts DE Justin Houston finished with a solo tackle, a sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit and a safety in Week 3 against the New York Jets.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (hamstring) caught five of his six targets for 64 yards and a touchdown before exiting with a hamstring injury in a 28-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: A week after being sidelined with a concussion, Godwin now has another injury to deal with. If he misses more time going forward, Scott Miller could vault into flex territory.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans caught a pair of one-yard touchdowns in a 28-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: It has been a strange season for Evans, who has sandwiched a pair of two-yard performances between a 100-yard game. He has scored in all three games, but Evans will need to see an increase in volume if he is going to finish as a WR1.
New York Jets WR Braxton Berrios registered four receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown on his six targets in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Fantasy Spin: Berrios helped pick up some of the slack with Jamison Crowder inactive due to an injury. That's two games and two scores for Berrios, who is likely to be a hot add off the waiver wire this season. He is worth grabbing as a WR5 in fantasy leagues of 12 or more teams.
New York Jets TE Chris Herndon posted three catches for 21 yards on five targets in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Fantasy Spin: Herndon opened with six grabs in Week 1, but he has managed just four catches for 26 yards on nine targets in his past two outings. That type of production isn't good for anyone in fantasy.
New York Jets S Bradley McDougald registered 10 total stops with five solo tackles in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts.
New York Jets QB Sam Darnold completed 17-of-29 passes for 168 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts. He also ran five times for 20 yards.
Fantasy Spin: Darnold was without Jamison Crowder, and he was also without Le'Veon Bell for the second straight game. It didn't help not having two of his best offensive weapons, but he simply made too many mistakes. The Jets have a quick turnaround, facing the Denver Broncos on Thursday in Week 4. Darnold cannot be trusted for fantasy purposes.
New York Jets RB Frank Gore ran 15 times for 57 yards in Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts and he added one reception for five yards on his only target.
Fantasy Spin: Gore has been picking up the slack with Le'Veon Bell inactive for a second straight game due to a hamstring injury. While Gore is getting a majority of the backfield touches ahead of La'Mical Perine and Kalen Ballage, it might only be a matter of time before Adam Gase elects to try the younger players. Fantasy buyer beware.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones rushed 13 times for 53 yards and caught two of his four targets for 20 yards in a 28-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: While it wasn't an overwhelming stat line, but after Leonard Fournette had a big Week 2, Jones resumed the lead role, leading all backs in carries and touches. The chances of Jones breaking into the RB2 ranks this year seem slim, but he should have value as a flex option.
Updating a previous report, Philadelphia Eagles TE Dallas Goedert (ankle) is expected to miss some time after leaving the Week 3 game against the Cincinnati Bengals due to an ankle injury. He will have an MRI Monday, Sept. 28.
Fantasy Spin: With Goedert likely to miss time, Zach Ertz will once again suck up all of the tight end targets, and might re-emerge as a bona fide TE1 in fantasy after having to share the wealth in the first three games this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady completed 25 of his 38 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: Brady had his best performance as a Buccaneer, but until he strings together a few strong outings, the veteran should still be treated as a matchup-based streaming option.
Los Angeles Chargers WR Mike Williams (hamstring) suffered a hamstring injury in Week 3 against the Carolina Panthers and he was unable to return.
Fantasy Spin: That explains his lack of usage in the home loss to the Panthers. He managed just one catch for 17 yards on one target We'll know more about his status for Week 4 once practice resumes on Wednesday.
Carolina Panthers CB Donte Jackson (toe) left the Week 3 game against the Los Angeles Chargers due to a toe injury.
New Orleans Saints TE Jared Cook (ankle) left the Week 3 game against the Green Bay Packers. He headed for the medical tent initially, then was taken to the locker room.
Fantasy Spin: If Cook is unable to return, it will be Josh Hill likely handling Cook's workload. We'll update his injury status as soon as possible.
The Carolina Panthers Defense capitalized in Week 3 against a team starting a rookie quarterback on the Chargers. Carolina notched two sacks, eight quarterback hits, one pick, and three fumble recoveries. While this was an encouraging performance for a team that gave up over 30 points in the first two games, this type of performance should not be expected each week. The Panthers' defense is still a very young and inexperienced unit, and they face a tough test in a rising Cardinals team next week.
Minnesota Vikings WR Adam Thielen caught three of his five targets for 29 yards and a touchdown in a 31-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: The touchdown salvaged an otherwise quiet afternoon, and since a monster performance in Week 1, Thielen has just six catches for 60 yards in the last two games. He still has WR2 upside, but with Kirk Cousins struggling, boom-or-bust production could become the norm.
Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph caught two of his three targets for 11 yards and a touchdown in a 31-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.
Fantasy Spin: It has been a quiet season for Rudolph, and he is sitting on four catches for 39 yards and a score after three games. He is a touchdown-dependent TE2.