JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - At Calais Campbell's charity bowling classic, Campbell and several other Jaguars said that while they are rooting for linebacker Telvin Smith to return to the field sooner rather than later, players said that they understand and support Smith's decision to take a year off from football.
"Talking to Telvin, and knowing Telvin, he's an incredible guy who loves the game and who I have so much respect for," Campbell said. "He says he needs some time, you have to respect that. This is a guy who has dedicated his life to the game and has for a long time. I'm here for you. If you need to talk or need anything, I'm here for him. Secretly, I'm hoping he comes back. I guess it's not so secret."
Perhaps nobody will be more impacted by Smith's decision than linebacker Myles Jack. He and Smith played next to one another last season, Jack as the middle linebacker, Smith as the weakside linebacker. When asked if he could move to Smith's position, Jack pushed back on the suggestion but said he's backing his teammate.
"I'm playing Mike 'backer, no question about it," Jack said. "Obviously, there is no secret, we're going to have to find a Will. That's for the coaches to decide. I'm playing Mike through and through until my time in Jacksonville is done. That's what they've been grooming me for. I plan on being the Mike when the season starts."
Jack moved from strongside linebacker to start at middle linebacker after the retirement of Paul Posluszny. Jack said that he has communicated with Smith and that he gets where Smith is coming from.
"Me and Telvin have a relationship that's deeper than football," Jack said. "Me and him have been talking about this. We've had communications. My mind is clear. I completely understand where he is coming from. There are more important things he needs to take care of in his life than the game of football. I think that's great. It's hard to walk away from the game of football."
The longest-tenured Jaguars player, defensive tackle Abry Jones, offered his support to the defensive co-captain.
"Telvin is a grown man and he knows things he to get done for himself and we all wish him the best," Jones said. "We definitely know that he has a life outside of football and he feels like he has to get things in order and we just have to be there to support him."
Campbell, always the veteran voice of reason in the Jaguars locker room, said that everyone who has played in the NFL understands what you have to give up to excel. Keeping life in perspective is sometimes difficult in the midst of a long career.
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"You really have to sacrifice this game to play the game at the highest level," Campbell said. "People don't realize the sacrifices you make with your family and your body. All the things that go into it. You can never fault a man for getting his priorities in order."
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