JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the Wednesday that was around EverBank Field as the Jaguars prepared to play the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, Sunday at 1 p.m.
"A TOUGH COUPLE OF DAYS"
He wasn't with the Jaguars physically Wednesday.
But there was little doubt linebacker Telvin Smith was with the team in every other way – and there was no doubt he was on the minds of teammates and coaches.
Smith, the Jaguars' third-year veteran weak-side linebacker, was away from the team Tuesday and Wednesday in the middle of an emotional, turbulent week. His brother, Brian Moore, died Sunday night in a shooting in Valdosta, Georgia.
On Tuesday, Smith celebrated the birth of a son.
"Can you imagine the emotional roller coaster he's been on?" Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said as the Jaguars (2-7) prepared to play the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions (5-4) at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, Sunday at 1 p.m.
"He just has a lot going on. We've had great conversation. Your heart goes for him, but I know he's taking everything day-by-day right now."
Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash fought through tears Wednesday discussing Smith.
"This has been a tough couple of days," Wash said. "He's a leader for us. What he goes through, we go through. He's strong."
Said defensive tackle Malik Jackson: "It makes you realize what's important."
Wash said the Jaguars will learn more Wednesday and Thursday about whether Smith will play against Detroit Sunday. He said rookie Myles Jack would move to the weak side if Smith is unavailable.
"Whatever is best for Telvin is the best thing for our team and for himself," Wash said, adding that there are a handful of players he has coached who would elicit such an emotional response. "You just know the kind of work ethic and the energy and stuff that he brings. I have never been through anything like that, so I don't know. Losing a family member is … I just feel sorry for the kid.
"Family is way more important than this game."
NEED FOR SPEED
The Jaguars worked Wednesday afternoon without pads, with Bradley afterward calling it a good practice. "At this time of the year, everybody's a little bit sore and beat up," Bradley said. "I think it's a little break for them. You hope that you go out there and see full concentration. That's what we saw. I was really glad how they responded to it."
"A WILD STALLION"
As Wash sees it, Leo defensive end Dante Fowler is improving when it comes to on playing smarter and reducing mental errors. "He is getting better," Wash said. But Wash said Fowler also must keep improving in this area. Fowler, a second-year veteran who missed his rookie season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, has committed a team-high eight penalties including three 15-yarders – two for unnecessary roughness and one for unsportsmanlike conduct. He was penalized 15 yards this past Sunday for hitting Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler well out of bounds. Wash on Wednesday called Fowler a "wild stallion," and said the team was aware of that personality trait when it selected Fowler No. 3 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. "I think he is getting better," Wash said. "He only had the one; that was good. It was a situation where he knows better. We talked about it after the game. He came in my office on Monday. He felt terrible about it. He gets his motor running and sometimes we have to be able to cool him down a little bit. He is maturing and it is a process."
BACK AT IT
Wide receiver Bryan Walters practice on a limited basis Wednesday after missing Sunday's home loss to Houston with a concussion. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum (knee) also worked on a limited basis on Wednesday.
Telvin Smith (personal) and defensive end Chris Smith (eye) both missed practice Wednesday. They were the only Jaguars players out of practice.
"I don't worry about motivation because we all get paid to play this game. We get paid to play 16 weeks, so I don't think it will be hard to have motivation. What's important is for the young guys not to check out and say, 'We're going to be home in January anyway.' As players we still need to be better and know it's about us getting our craft better. It's about longevity. Things may not be going well right now, but we're building about something toward the future. You always have to work on your craft and if you're not getting better you're getting worse."