INDIANAPOLIS — Jaguars coach Doug Marrone isn’t entirely sure why Leonard Fournette is in Wyoming. He had trouble even fathoming why the young running back would want to be in the remote part of the country this offseason.
Yet there he was, in a video posted to his Twitter account Tuesday (Feb. 26), lifting weights with what appeared to be members of the University of Wyoming football team in what appears to be the University of Wyoming weight room, which is located in Laramie, Wyoming — far, far away from either Florida or his hometown of New Orleans.
“When he told me about Wyoming, I was like, ‘Wyoming? You might be the first player ever — nothing against Wyoming — but you might be the first player ever … Wyoming? Why are you going to Wyoming?’” Marrone said during an interview session at the NFL Combine.
Then again, maybe Marrone does have an idea why.
The way last season ended for Fournette, the former LSU star, maybe he needed to go some place where he could focus solely on football, like when Rocky Balboa went to train in the Soviet Union ahead of his fight with Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV.” (Fun fact: in real life, that remote cabin was also located in Wyoming).
“I believe him and I’m excited for him when he comes back,” Marrone said of Fournette.
Fournette’s sophomore NFL season ended with a thud.
A nagging hamstring injury limited Fournette to eight games, and when he was on the field he did not perform up to the standard of his high draft selection (No. 4 overall in 2017) and rookie year performance (1,040 yards, nine touchdowns).
Fournette averaged just 3.3 yards per carry last season, the worst mark of any NFL running back with at least 100 carries.
“Last year, obviously, was tough with the injury,” Marrone said. “Any time you’re young and you have a lot of expectations put on you, I think when you have some injuries, it’s tough to deal with. It’s a tough situation for anyone, not just Leonard.”
The ineffectiveness on the field was made worse by some unsavory moments. The only headlines Fournette made in 2018 were a result of a fight and ejection against the Bills, for which he was suspended a game, and for being called out by Jaguars Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin for his sideline behavior in the season finale.
Coughlin and Jaguars brass met with Fournette after the season to clear the air.
“After the season was over, obviously, it’s been noted that we sat down and spoke, he and I,” Marrone said. “I really believe he’s in a good place. He’s been in the building, working out, working hard.”
Another Jaguars running back, T.J. Yeldon, is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. When asked about how losing Yeldon might affect Fournette, Marrone said he didn’t think about it that way.
“I just think of Leonard Fournette playing a major role in what we’re trying to get accomplished, being a workhorse for us, feeding him the ball and making sure that he’s practicing and is a three-down back.
The biggest problem Marrone said he currently has with Fournette is figuring out when to take him off the field.
“I want him to be out there,” Marrone said.
He’ll just have to get back from Wyoming first.