EAGAN, Minn. – Telvin Smith's smile was wide.
He got good work, which is what he wanted – and he got to see old friends.
Mostly, Smith and the Jaguars late Wednesday afternoon got a chance to practice against one of the NFL's best teams – and Smith said that made a dual practice against the Minnesota Vikings a productive afternoon.
"It was good; it was good," the Pro Bowl weak-side linebacker said following a two-and-half-hour practice against the Vikings at the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center Wednesday afternoon.
"It was great seeing new competition and being able to go against their [running] backs. They were great looks, so they pushed us. It was good."
Smith's smile reflected the mood of the Jaguars' defense Wednesday. The unit was strong, with a defensive line that includes three Pro Bowl selections from last season – end Calais Campbell, tackle Malik Jackson and end Yannick Ngakoue – playing stout and getting penetration against the Vikings' offensive line.
Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota offense were strong at times early, particularly in an early red-zone drill, but the Jaguars' defensive front and the back seven appeared to give Cousins and the Vikings' offense more trouble throughout the latter part of practice.
The Jaguars' offense appeared more up and down than the defense, with the Vikings' defense intercepting Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles in 7-on-7 work and nearly intercepting him at least once in 11-on-11 work. Both Jaguars' lines appeared strong, and the offensive line appeared to get movement in the running game against a strong Vikings' defensive front.
The Jaguars' defense ranked second in the NFL in yards allowed last season; the Vikings' defense ranked No. 1 in that area.
"We just want to take it mentally to another level," Smith said. "We need to see if we've got some backups who are ready to play. That's going to be the key – making sure we have somebody to go in. … That's our goal – to see how good we can be."
The practice provided a reunion of sorts for Smith. He played collegiately at Florida State with Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes, and Vikings running back Dalvin Cook played at Florida State from 2014-2016. Smith played at FSU from 2010-2013.
"It was great to get back on the field and see 'Xa' out there, and to actually be on the field with Dalvin – and to compete against him to see how he worked … it was good work," Smith said. "They're my enemies during the season. At the end of the day, I got to make sure these guys in teal [the Jaguars] are ready to go."
The practice nearly was a bigger FSU reunion. Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who played at Florida State from 2013-2015, missed practice while serving a one-week suspension from the team along with defensive end Dante Fowler Jr.
"We rapped," Smith said of his communication with Ramsey this week. "He's solid. You know what I mean? He's going to be all right. We're ready for him to get back."
*Wednesday was an emotional day for both teams, particularly for Jaguars assistant offensive line coach Tony Sparano Jr. His father, Tony Sparano, was the offensive line coach of the Vikings until his unexpected and sudden passing on July 23. Tony Sparano Sr.'s wife – Jeanette – attended practice Wednesday. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone spoke Wednesday before practice of "a difficult situation really for both sides" emotionally. "To be able to see his wife, pay my respects – and for Tony [Sparano Jr.] to come back up here – I think it is very emotional," Marrone said. "Tony (Sr.) was obviously a line coach. I was an ex-line coach. I knew him when I was at Northeastern, and he was at Boston University, so that goes way back. I have always watched the way his players play, and I have always appreciated it and tried to aspire to have my players play the same way and play for me like they played for him. I think that it is a tough time, and I think that it is on a lot of people's minds as we are up here working." Sparano Sr. was the Jaguars' tight ends coach in 2002.
*Jaguars second-year cornerback Jalen Myrick had a homecoming of sorts Wednesday, practicing in the area for the first time since playing collegiately at the University of Minnesota. "It's a second home," Myrick said of Minnesota. Myrick, a sixth-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2017 NFL Draft, got more extensive playing time Wednesday with the front-line defense with Ramsey suspended. "It was a good day," he said. "I had a good time out there." …