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Smith meets with reporters; nearing playing weight


Jimmy Smith met with reporters today for the first time since he began his hospital ordeal in March.

"I'm just very happy to be out here. The guys were very happy to see me. That's a good feeling," Smith said, as he entertained reporters' questions in the company of coach Tom Coughlin, who monitored the questions and intercepted two he preferred to answer.

The conference was scheduled for a couple of weeks ago, but Smith postponed it as he continued to regain weight he lost during three surgical procedures that caused him to be hospitalized three times for a total of about a month's stay. Smith underwent three surgeries to repair a blockage in his small intestine. The first of those surgeries removed a section of Smith's colon.

Today, Smith appeared healthy and near his playing weight of 208 pounds. At this past Saturday's Florida Sports Awards, Smith said he weighed 196 pounds.

"I lost somewhere in the area of 20-25 pounds," Smith said. "I'm a professional athlete. I can recover quicker than the average person."

The meeting with the media followed a one-hour Jaguars pre-camp practice. Pre-camp will conclude this Friday and players will be on vacation until the start of training camp on July 26.

That vacation period will be a time of rehabilitation for Smith, who is expected to get a complete bill of health from the doctors before the end of June.

"The next five weeks are critical. We will go exactly by what the doctors tell us," said Coughlin, who would offer no other timetable of recovery for his star wide receiver.

Obviously, the intent is for Smith to be recovered in time to take his place in the starting lineup for the season-opener against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 9.

"I just have to work hard. I've got to work twice as hard to get back. I'm not so concerned about the muscle mass. I think the conditioning will be the toughest thing," Smith said.

He admitted his strength has been compromised by his health problems. "I'm fresh out of the hospital, so, obviously I'm not able to bench what I was able to do before," he said.

"The physical part is the easy part. That's my job. That's what I do," he added.

Coughlin praised Smith, who made 91 pass receptions for 1,213 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

"He never doubted or lost control of his emotions," Coughlin said of Smith's demeanor during the most trying times of his surgical ordeal.

Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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