The Jaguars surprising run to the top of the AFC South is thanks to the presence of a punishing defense and the production of rookie tailback Leonard Fournette. On Sunday, the absence of the latter put more pressure on the former, but everything worked out fine for the Jags, who beat the hapless Bengals 23-7.
Fournette missed a Week 9 showdown with the Bengals after reportedly violating team rules. Chris Ivory tarted in his place.
Head coach Doug Marrone said Fournette would return to the lineup for Week 10.
“Leonard Fournette is not playing in today’s game due to an infraction of a team rule,” Marrone said in a statement 90 minutes before kickoff. “This has been addressed internally and further details will not be made public.”
ESPN’s Field Yates reported one of the issues that led to Fournette’s suspension was his absence from team activities earlier in the week.
Amongst the reasons Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette is out today is that he missed the team photo earlier this week, sources confirmed to ESPN.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 5, 2017
Fox’s Jay Glazer would later report Fournette missed a team meeting and a treatment session for his injured ankle, leaving the franchise little choice but to discipline him.
What this means for the Jaguars: That’s a continued blow for an offense that’s come to rely on its stable of talented tailbacks. Jacksonville leads the NFL with 169 rushing yards per game, the bulk of which have come from its talented rookie. Fournette has run for 596 yards in six games this fall, with 311 of those coming in his last two appearances.
The Jags have already had to deal with his absence once this season. An ankle injury kept Fournette from the field in a Week 7 victory over the Colts. Ivory ran for just 47 yards on 17 carries in his place, but the downgrade didn’t make much of a difference; Jacksonville went on to win that game 27-0.
What this means for Leonard Fournette: This is a bad look for a young runner. Fournette had jumped to the top of the offensive rookie of the year line after Deshaun Watson suffered an ACL tear that will keep him from the field the rest of the season. Now, he’ll miss another game and have to deal with a host of questions about whether or not he’s a team player. While he’s still on pace for a monster year, he’ll no doubt shoulder the blame if Jacksonville can’t handle Cincinnati Sunday.