JACKSONVILLE – Telvin Smith had an idea it was coming.
That didn't make Tuesday morning any easier for the Jaguars' Pro Bowl weak-side linebacker, though – and the day was difficult for strong-side linebacker Myles Jack, too.
No more Paul Posluszny?
Although he knows it's real, Smith said it will take a while to come to terms with what Tuesday's news really means.
"We talked about last week, so I kind of had a heads up about it," Smith said Tuesday morning, "but even when he told me … it's still kind of unsettling in a sense. It's unreal."
Posluszny, a veteran middle linebacker and the Jaguars' defensive captain the past four seasons, on Tuesday morning made official what he told Smith last week – that he is retiring after 11 NFL seasons, including the last seven with the Jaguars.
The news meant the end of a career for one of the best defensive players in Jaguars history. For Smith and Jack, it meant the end of playing with a teammate they said helped them immeasurably professionally and personally.
"It's definitely a tough day," Jack said. "I feel like I still have more stuff to learn from him."
Posluszny, who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in 2011, led the Jaguars in tackles five seasons and was among the team's most respected players throughout his tenure.
"Some people sleep on it, but I'm telling you: he really taught me how to be a pro, how to be an NFL leader," Smith said. "There are different levels. You're dealing with a group of grown men, so it's tough to deal with everybody. He taught me a lot in that aspect – how to come to work and go to work and give it everything you've got.
"You say, 'Look how time flies for a guy who had a hell of a career and still has so much left in him.' Selfishly, I know I wasn't ready to be done playing with him and I know he wasn't ready to be done playing himself. It's a lot to take in."
Jack said thought of the Jaguars' locker room – and the linebacker meeting room – without Posluszny is difficult.
"It's definitely going to be weird without him for sure," Jack said. "That's going to be the thing: Poz is at the head of the table in the linebacker room. He's somebody you always expect to be there."
Smith, who grew close to Posluszny in four seasons as teammates, laughed when recalling that "people thought he [Posluszny] was a machine, Robo Man."
"We knew one thing – that when a lift started, or when the day started, Poz was going to be there first," Smith said. "He was going to set the standard of when to get there, how to be when you got there … I'm telling you: so much about how to be a pro, he taught me."
The Jaguars selected Jack in Round 2 of the 2016 NFL Draft, a move that eventually reduced Posluszny's role this past season. With Jack and Smith playing in nickel situations, Posluszny – though still the starting middle linebacker – played only in base situations and therefore played far fewer snaps than in his first 10 seasons. Jack said Posluszny never changed his approach – and never showed resentment over the situation.
"From the day I got there, any questions I had, he helped me – anything … whether it was football or life," Jack said. "We talked about life more than football. I like the way he looked at life and how he saw things. I wish I could have a year or two more with him."
Posluszny in a letter to the fans and franchise Tuesday emphasized how much it meant to have played on an AFC South title-winning team this past season, a season that ended with a loss in the AFC Championship Game. The Jaguars' 10-6 season marked the first winning season and first postseason appearance of Posluszny's career.
"I'm telling you – that drove the team," Smith said. "In his own way, in his own right, Poz was a motivator … Poz was the drive. Everybody looked at him and said, 'Man, I've got to go out and give it all I've got for him. He's never had this.' We used that.
"You darned sure can say we did it for Poz this season. At the same time, it was unfinished. I promise you this: I'm going to dedicate my next one to him … I'll tell you that."
Smith said his sense was that Posluszny particularly savored the final seasons of his career – even before this past season.
"It seemed like the last two years he hit that switch and it seemed he really started to enjoy playing," Smith said. "Poz is on the details and everything has to be right, but these last two or three years I promise you I saw him smile more than I did before – even in pictures.
"I know he went through another phase in life, having his daughters – that opened him up in a different way. I saw that, and it gave him these last two or three years to go battle with us."
Smith, too, said it's his hope that a significant franchise honor awaits his friend and – now former –teammate.
"I know there are great guys in front of us, great guys from that defense in the 2000s, but I definitely see Poz in the Ring of Honor as a Jacksonville Jaguar," Smith said. "His influence will definitely last. I know for a fact we'll be talking about his influence throughout the building. He definitely is going to be a step for this program and this organization."