The Jacksonville Jaguars are the next team on the schedule for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Here are some highlights from Jags coach Doug Marrone’s conference call with southwest Ohio reporters:
1. Marrone is (not surprisingly) impressed with Leonard Fournette.
The rookie running back from LSU is sixth in the NFL with 596 yards this season despite missing last week’s game with an ankle injury.
“He’s done an outstanding job transitioning from the college game to the NFL game,” Marrone said. “He’s shown really good versatility.”
The coach called Fournette a three-down back and noted he has done a nice job catching the ball out of backfield, something he didn’t do much at LSU.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and he’s performed very well for us.”
Fournette has been listed as a full participant in practice this week.
2. With the emergence of Fournette, Jacksonville’s quarterback hasn’t been as bad.
Blake Bortles has endured some tough times in the NFL, but 2014’s No. 3 is coming off a decent game against the Rams and a strong performance against the Colts.
“I think when you’re able to establish a run game and get play action going it takes pressure off that position no matter who it is,” Marrone said.
“Being able to go back and hand the ball off and not feel like you have to make every play in the game is something I've always believed in.
“Everyone puts the emphasis on the quarterback to make all the plays. We just need him when we call his number to make the plays, and we need other people around him to step up. Our running backs have done a nice job of that.”
Bortles is 21st in the league with a passer rating of 85.4, trailing Andy Dalton’s mark by less than two points.
3. Marrone respects the Bengals defensive front.
“This will be a great test for us. I have a ton of respect for Cincinnati up front,” Marrone said. “Marvin and the rest of the staff do a good job. They play hard. They’re really good against the run and pass.
While the Jags are enjoying a bounce-back year on defense, Marrone noted the Bengals have been better, at least statistically.
“And they’re tough. They don’t give up a lot. It’s tough to move the ball. It’s tough to score in the red zone, so it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”
That especially goes fro Carl Lawson.
“You look at what Carl Lawson is doing on the edge, it’s outstanding. Thirty-one pressures, really no one has really done what he’s been doing since like the last seven years.”
4. The coach of the Jags also had praise for Chris Smith.
After three seasons in Jacksonville, Smith is enjoying a good first half of his first year in Cincinnati.
The defensive lineman has 14 tackles, including 1.5 sacks, as a key reserve for a deep group of pass rushers.
“I was the offensive line coach so I watched him during one on ones (last season),” Marrone said. “I thought he gave great effort. Good rushes. I know he was a tough matchup for us.
He did an outstanding job.”
Smith played in 19 games for the Jaguars.
“I really liked him and thought he did a great job and worked his butt off.”
5. Marrone is disappointed in his run defense so far.
The Jaguars are No. 1 in the league in passing yards allowed per game but last in rushing defense. They hope the acquisition of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus helps.
“We thought we were going to be much better at this point in time against the run,” Marrone said. “We put a lot of time and a lot of emphasis on it.”
The Bengals haven’t proven they can run on anyone yet, though. They enter the game 30th in the league in rushing yards per game.
READ MORE: Bengals avoid disaster, but now what?