The New England Patriots won’t know if they’re facing Leonard Fournette or not Sunday until later in the week at the earliest.
Fournette, Jacksonville’s second-year back, who rushed for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns on 268 carries last year as a rookie, suffered what the Jaguars coaching staff is calling “a minor hamstring injury” in Sunday’s win over the New York Giants. He had nine carries for 41 yards before being sidelined.
“I talked to [the doctors] and they said it was a minor hamstring injury,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone told Jacksonville.com. “We have a lot of time and we will see where it is. If he is ready to go, we will ease him back in there. We will see how he feels. I think a lot of it depends on that.”
Fournette had 76 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries against New England last year in the AFC Championship game.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said whether the Patriots are facing Fournette, No. 2 back T.J. Yeldon or both, Jacksonville’s running game presents a challenge.
“It’s a tough combination. Both are really good, different, but explosive. Tackling is going to be a big issue for us this week. Those guys are hard to tackle,” he said. “They make a lot of yards on their own with their running skills, and so defeating the blocks and getting into position is half the battle and then the other half of it is actually making the tackle and getting them on the ground, so it’ll be very challenging for us. These guys are good. Of course, [Blake] Bortles had a long run in the game against the Giants. Everybody’s a problem.”
Yeldon, who rushed for 740 yards as the featured back as a rookie in 2015, rushed 49 times for 253 yards behind Fournette in 2017. He’s been a solid pass-catcher out of the backfield in either role, averaging 38.7 catches in three seasons. He had 51 yards on 14 carries and three catches for 18 yards and a touchdown against the Giants. Bortles has 42 yards on four carries, with 41 of those coming on one carry.
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