Add former Washington and current Jacksonville Jaguars running back Chris Thompson to the list of people who were shocked on Monday when running back Leonard Fournette was cut by the Jaguars.
Despite the team having shopped him during the offseason, Fournette’s arrival at training camp and the proximity to the season made the move quite a surprise. So when Fournette entered the running back room to let his teammates know what transpired, Thompson didn’t believe it was real.
“We all thought it was a joke at first,” Thompson said Wednesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
Head coach Doug Marrone then informed the team in a meeting that Fournette had indeed been released, and it’s then that the news truly settled in for Thompson. From there, the rest of the day carried a strange atmosphere, as one of the roster's bigger names was no longer around.
“It just was a weird day,” Thompson said, “weird just vibe at practice, just having something like that happen so quick. It was just a shock, I think, more so than anything for everybody.”
For Thompson, while the news is shocking, it could benefit the veteran in the long run. Fournette would have been a feature back, and even though that would have allowed Thompson to still have a role as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, Fournette's absence could lead to even more touches.
Former Washington Football Team head coach Jay Gruden is now the offensive coordinator in Jacksonville, and he’s been a well-known fan of Thompson’s game since their time together in Washington. If Thompson can remain healthy -- he hasn’t played a full season since 2016 -- the shifty running back could be in line for a volume increase in 2020.
As for Fournette, he cleared waivers making him an option for other teams around the league. His combination of a bruising running style with speed makes him an enticing option, and he is still only 25 years old.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see an offense in need of some help in the ground game take a chance on the former No. 4 overall pick.