The Flashlight: Jaguars FB Tommy Bohanon leads the way for RBs to shine, makes plays of his own

Jaguars beat writer Mike Kaye previews the Week 2 matchup against the Titans

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It only took one regular season game for the fullback position to make its mark on the Jaguars' offense.

Lined up on the goal line against the Houston Texans defense, quarterback Blake Bortles sold a handoff to running back Leonard Fournette. As the rookie running back sprinted left, selling his end of the bargain, fullback Tommy Bohanon ran to the right side of the field.

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In a blink of an eye, Bortles threw a short pass that hit Bohanon in stride. The fullback then sliced into the end zone for his first career touchdown.

It was a notable way for Bohanon to celebrate his 27th birthday. More importantly, it capped the Jaguars' most impressive offensive drive of the game.

Challenged for the first time in the matchup, the Jaguars' offense delivered an answer to a DeShaun Watson touchdown on the previous drive. Bohanon was a key role player on the successful series.

"It was definitely very exciting," Bohanon said. "Any time you can score in the NFL, it's an exciting time and it doesn't happen for many people very often." 

Bohanon was involved with 26 plays on offense, appearing on roughly 41 percent of the snaps allotted to Bortles and Co. He made them count as a lead blocker, opening up holes and taking on defenders for the sake of running backs Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory.

Bohanon led the way for some big runs for both running backs. The added blocker in the formation gave Fournette and Ivory the opportunity to gain more ground.

"It helps me a lot," Fournette said. "Not just me, but all of the running backs, because [the fullback is] our flashlight to get into the hole and they help us out a lot. Without [the fullback], I'd say we wouldn't be where we are at right now."

While Bohanon is used as a "flashlight" for the running backs, he is more like a Swiss Army knife for the offense. The position is asked to catch passes, block and even run the ball occasionally.

"It's something you've got to work on, you've got to be able to do a lot of things as a fullback in the league these days," Bohanon said. "You have to be able to catch, you have to be able to run and you have to be able to block, which is your main job. It's something you have to take and compartmentalize a little bit and you obviously focus on blocking the most."

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett believes the fullback position adds another layer to the offense. He used Bohanon as a dual-threat in the Week 1 win over the Texans but could expand his role down the road.

On Thursday, Hackett said adding the fullback position to the lineup gives opposing defenses one more thing to examine and prepare for.

Bohanon, who considers himself to be a natural runner and receiver, has improved his blocking during his NFL career. He is comfortable with all three roles.

The receiving touchdown was proof that he can be a play-maker when called upon.

"It's something I definitely focus on, catching out of the ball out of the backfield," Bohanon said. "Being able to run routes and do things like that, as well as being able to go in there and try to help out the running backs and get them as many yards as possible [as a blocker]."

Blocking was Bohanon's key to a roster spot this offseason. Several teammates have noted his consistency in that area of his game.

His ability to open up holes or take on an extra defender has helped Fournette and Ivory break free for chunks of yardage. Bohanon is used to blocking for Ivory, as the two spent a few seasons together with the New York Jets.

"[Ivory] and Leonard are definitely very similar backs in that they are very tough runners and they run through contact a lot," Bohanon said. "They make my job easy. They kind of take on their blocks the same way so I don't really have to change up too much. Obviously, being with Chris, I think this is our third year together now, it definitely helps out."

While the running backs make Bohanon's job easier, he offers a boost to the offensive line. Adding Bohanon to the blocking package takes away an extra blitzer or run stopper in the box.

"I think it helps us out a lot," starting right guard A.J. Cann said. "It gives us a chance to run many different kinds of runs. If they put an extra guy in the box, that fullback can account for being that extra blocker, so I think it helps out a ton having an extra blocker in the formation."

The Jaguars want to establish a ground-and-pound offense. With the use of Bohanon at fullback, that strategy was met with plenty of success against Houston.

It was just one game but it's clear the addition of the fullback position was a positive one for the Jaguars. Bohanon's work against the Texans offers something to build on for the running and passing attack.

The Jaguars will use the "flashlight" to shine on all aspects of the offense. If Bohanon can continue to flash as a receiver, he may be given even more scoring opportunities moving forward.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

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