September 13, 2018 / 11:13 PM / a year ago

NFL notebook: Fournette optimistic about playing Sunday

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette said he is making strides in his recovery from a right hamstring injury and feels he has a solid chance of playing against the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Aug 30, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) watches the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Fournette missed his second straight day of practice on Thursday but didn’t experience any issues with the hamstring while running on the side.

He suffered the injury during the season-opening victory over the New York Giants. He said he felt the hamstring pop when he planted his right leg after catching a screen pass.

“Any person would give anything to play, especially it’s a great football team we’re going against. Just have to see,” Fournette said. “My main focus is to strengthen it back up, get the swelling or whatever that is in there, and come out Sunday and play.”

— Aaron Rodgers didn’t practice Thursday and isn’t guaranteed to play Sunday in a key early season NFC North matchup, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

“This is no layup,” McCarthy said. “That’s why it’s a day-to-day situation.”

Green Bay (1-0) will host Minnesota (1-0) at Lambeau Field. Rodgers injured his left knee in the season opener against the Chicago Bears but returned to lead the Packers to a come-from-behind victory.

—Jalen Ramsey made it clear as he spoke with reporters about Rob Gronkowski: He’s not scared of anybody. The Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback recently criticized the New England Patriots tight end in an ESPN The Magazine story and didn’t back off three days before the two teams meet in a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game won by New England.

“I don’t fear no man, period,” Ramsey said. “So he’s going to have to come out there and line up on me. Or however it goes. He’s got to play us this year.”

In the recent article, Ramsey said in part: “I don’t think Gronk’s good. Let me say — I don’t think Gronk is as great as people think he is. Any time Gronk has been matched up with a corner, he’s had a very bad game — and that corner has had a very good game.”

— Four first-time candidates are among more than 100 former NFL players and coaches on the list of modern-era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019.

Tight end Tony Gonzalez, linebacker London Fletcher, cornerback Champ Bailey and safety Ed Reed are on the ballot for the first time. The list will be pared to 25 in November, then to 15 in January. Those selected for enshrinement will be announced on Super Bowl weekend.

Fans may vote for candidates they believe should move on in the selection process at

—New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. received a lot of work in his first game since breaking his left ankle 11 months ago. Not surprisingly, his body was aching afterward.

“I’m not going to lie, I was sore after the game,” Beckham told reporters on Thursday. “First time in, whatever how many days it was, 300-something, getting hit out there. I felt good to make it out, but I was feeling it. I was feeling it the Monday after. We’re here healthy, get back in and do your rehab, and get ready for this week.”

The Giants visit the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday and Beckham will look to follow up on what seems like a good opening game — 11 receptions for 111 yards. But the three-time Pro Bowler wasn’t all that impressed with his performance in the 20-15 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“There were a lot of things I went and looked at. Stuff that I felt like I could’ve done better,” Beckham said. “There’s little chances we had in the game that could’ve been a difference. It’s just about connecting on them, and just getting the small details down. Whether it’s getting the depth of your route, which is something I’ve always felt like I needed to work on.”

— Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger skipped practice again with a right elbow issue.

Roethlisberger, 36, sustained the elbow injury late in Pittsburgh’s tie with Cleveland on Sunday. He didn’t practice Wednesday but said then that the injury wasn’t significant.

On Thursday, backup quarterback Joshua Dobbs worked with the first team. Dobbs, a Tennessee product, was taken by the Steelers in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

—Several college football games have been moved, postponed or canceled in anticipation of Hurricane Florence pummeling Virginia and the Carolinas, but the Carolina Panthers haven’t changed their plans.

Coach Ron Rivera told reporters that the Panthers expect to practice in Charlotte on Friday and travel to Atlanta on Saturday.

The Panthers and Falcons are scheduled to play Sunday at 1 p.m. at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Rivera said the team is monitoring developments and could leave Friday, if necessary.

—Field Level Media

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