Defensive tackle Larry Smith provided some anxious moments in this morning's practice at Jaguars training camp, when Smith had to be taken from the field on a cart after succumbing to the heat.
"He went to the hospital to have tests done. He had an episode of heat. He went down, got dizzy. It's a serious issue and we're taking it seriously, but he appears to be doing fine," head coach Jack Del Rio said of Smith, a second-round draft choice from Florida State in 1999.
Smith is expected to be released from the hospital Monday morning, but the incident left its mark on Smith's teammates.
"I got on my knees and said a quick prayer for him," running back Fred Taylor said.
"It was a scary moment to see someone fall like that and not know what's going on," wide receiver J.J. Stokes added.
Hot and humid conditions greeted the Jaguars for their first full-pads practice of this new era. It was a practice in which the defense dominated the nine-on-seven running and seven-on-seven passing drills.
"Normally, you would say your defense is going to be ahead early in camp, but we have a veteran offense," Del Rio said.
Veteran wide receiver Jimmy Smith was held out of the rotation at wide receiver. "We've got a lot to learn about the wide-out position, and Jimmy is not one of them," Del Rio said.
That allowed Stokes, a summer roster addition after being cut by the 49ers, a chance to accelerate his development in the Jaguars offense. Stokes played in the "West Coast offense" in San Francisco and says the Jaguars version isn't much different, but developing a presence won't be as simple as switching teams.
"It's an X-dominated offense and I play Z. (Mark Brunell) is already comfortable with Jimmy. He's going to have to get a comfort level with me," said Stokes, who's in competition for the second wide receiver spot.
In nine-on-seven drills, veteran defensive end Paul Spicer made a couple of impressive stops and second-year linebacker Akin Ayodele shot through the line to make a stop in the backfield. But the highlight play of the drill was made by free-agent defensive end Lionel Barnes, who pushed tackle Dave Kadella over backward and into the path of running back Elvis Joseph.
The offense's long moment of triumph in nine-on-seven was a cutback run by Fred Taylor, who got the loudest cheer of the morning from a sizable fan turnout.
"I expect to be at my best. I expect every season to be the best season I've ever had," Taylor told reporters.
Taylor was nothing short of sensational throughout spring drills, and he appears to have picked up in training camp where he left off in June. Taylor's moving with an ease and quickness he lacked last season, his comeback season from a major groin injury in 2001. And he says his head has never been better for the game.
"Last year was like do or die; you gotta go," Taylor said of his attitude on playing hurt. "My thought process changed. I was taking the wrong approach (previously). I always thought, 'We've got time. We're going to make the playoffs.
"I could've (played)," he said of those times earlier in his career when injury forced him out of action. "I look back and think I should've been out there. One game that comes back is from my rookie year, Buffalo. I could've (played)."
Taylor is the Jaguars' most bonafide star; a great talent who is coming off a productive season and is in the prime years of his career.
"Everyone says 1,500 yards. How about 11 wins? I just want to win. I'm tired of losing," he said.
Del Rio's thoughts are on finding players who will stop the trend of consecutive losing seasons at three. "We're going to give guys a chance to compete for the job," he said when asked about third-round guard Vince Manuwai running with the first team in nine-on-seven. Del Rio said it was part of a rotation system of players designed to get a look at everybody.
"I thought (linebacker) Danny Clark showed up when the pads came on," Del Rio added.
And the heat showed up, too, right on cue. You might say training camp officially began this morning.