AFC South: Danny Noble

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars begin offseason conditioning on Wednesday. There is minimal on-field work allowed and only strength and conditioning coaches are allowed on the field, so there's not much football coaching going on.

But this is the first look at the 2014 Jaguars. They'll look a lot different after next month’s draft, but here’s an early look at the offensive depth chart. The defensive depth chart will appear Tuesday:

Henne
Quarterback

Starter: Chad Henne.
Reserves: Ricky Stanzi, Matt Scott.

The Jaguars are going to draft at least one quarterback, but the job belongs to Henne. GM David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley have said they don’t want a rookie quarterback to play right away. They want him to take the time to learn the game while not having to worry about winning games each week. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Stanzi the second active quarterback for the first part of the season.

Gerhart
Running back

Starter: Toby Gerhart.
Reserves: Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson, Delone Carter.

Gerhart was signed to replace Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars believe he can be an every-down back. He’s never done it at the NFL level, though he was a beast at Stanford, so there’s an element of uncertainty. The plan is 15-20 touches per game. The player everyone is watching is Robinson, who struggled holding onto the ball last season. This will certainly be a make-or-break offseason for him. Expect the Jaguars to draft a back as well.

Fullback

Starter: Will Ta’ufo’ou.
Reserves: Shaun Chapas, Bradie Ewing.

The Jaguars claimed Ewing in late March. He was a fifth-round pick of Atlanta in 2012 but missed all of his rookie season with a torn ACL. He played in two games last season before being placed on IR with a shoulder injury. The fullback wasn’t really involved in the offense in 2013. That may change if the talent level improves.

Lewis
Tight end

Starter: Marcedes Lewis.
Reserves: Danny Noble, Clay Harbor, Brandon Barden.

Lewis really came on in the last third of the 2013 season and should be a 50-catch guy in 2014. Harbor is a flex tight end and is better used off the line of scrimmage. Noble had the big catch-and-run against Arizona but otherwise was a blocker. This position needs another weapon, but it’s probably not going to be that high of a priority in the draft.

Wide receiver

Starters: Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders.
Reserves: Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor, Chad Bumphis, Stephen Burton, Tandon Doss, Jeremy Ebert, Lamaar Thomas, Stephen Williams.

This is a position the Jaguars are sure to address in the draft as well. Outside of Shorts, Sanders and Brown, the Jaguars have little experience and not much production. Justin Blackmon is still suspended and the Jaguars aren't counting on anything from him. Doss had more success as a kick returner than receiver in Baltimore and that's likely to continue in Jacksonville. The Jaguars need a big, physical receiver as well as someone who can demand double teams and free up other receivers to make plays. They could find all of that in Sammy Watkins at No. 3.

Offensive line

Starters: LT Luke Joeckel, LG Zane Beadles, C Mike Brewster, RG Will Rackley, RT Austin Pasztor.
Reserves: OT/G Cameron Bradfield, OT Sam Young, C Matt Stankiewitch, G Jacques McClendon, G Stephane Milhim, G Drew Nowak, OT DeMarcus Love.

The question marks are Brewster and Rackley because they’re going to have to hold off challenges from guys already on the roster, as well as any rookies. The Jaguars nearly landed Alex Mack in free agency but when the Cleveland Browns matched the Jaguars’ offer sheet, Brewster inherited the starting job. Caldwell and Bradley publicly said they have confidence in Brewster, a third-year player from Ohio State who suffered a fractured ankle in Week 15, but that was before they signed Mack to an offer sheet. Rackley struggled last season, but he deserves credit for playing much of the season with a knee injury. Expect the Jaguars to draft a center and a guard and bring in several undrafted free agents to compete at those spots. Bradfield started 25 games at right and left tackle but also can play guard, which makes him a valuable reserve.

Free-agency series: Tight ends

February, 27, 2014
Feb 27
12:00
PM ET
Here is the fourth of a 10-part series breaking down the Jacksonville Jaguars' free-agency needs, position by position:

Tight ends

Lewis
Who’s on the roster: Brandon Barden, Clay Harbor, Marcedes Lewis, Danny Noble and Allen Reisner.

Analysis: Lewis was pretty much MIA the first half of the season because of a calf injury and trying to find his spot in the offense, but he came on late in the season and caught 16 passes for 242 yards and four touchdowns in the last five games. If he's used the same way in 2014, he should have a 50-catch season. He is by far the team's best blocker, and Harbor and Reisner are flex tight ends who combined for 29 catches in 2013. Noble is a young, raw player with good size (6-foot-5, 248 pounds) and seems to be OK as a blocker, but he needs refinement. He flashed his potential with his 62-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown against Arizona. Barden signed a futures contract with the team in late December.

NFL free agents of interest: Ed Dickson, Garrett Graham, Dustin Keller and Andrew Quarless.

Need meter: 3. Lewis is among the league's best blocking tight ends and is a weapon in the passing game. He's not as much of a threat up the seam as some of the league's elite tight ends, but as long as he stays healthy the Jaguars are in pretty good shape. Harbor is an unrestricted free agent and he could be the Jaguars' best option. The tight end market is pretty thin after the top two or three, and the Jaguars are unlikely to invest a lot of money in this spot since Lewis already has such a high cap number ($8.25 million). Expect the Jaguars to draft a tight end.

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 29
Preseason Power Ranking: 29

Biggest surprise: When the Jaguars signed defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks to a one-year, $1.5 million contract last April, they thought he’d be a good fit in coach Gus Bradley’s system. Turns out he was a perfect fit. Marks plays the three-technique, which means he lines up on the guard’s outside shoulder, and that position is supposed to provide interior pass rush. Marks finished with four sacks, nine quarterback pressures and eight pass breakups -- all numbers that equaled or surpassed the totals from his first four seasons. He seemed to make at least one impactful play every game and he accounted for two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. His play earned him a four-year contract extension as one of the building blocks of the defense.

Biggest disappointment: The Jaguars’ inability to consistently run the ball, especially early in the season, was vexing. The Jaguars switched from a predominantly man-blocking scheme to a zone-blocking scheme, and the offensive line had trouble with the transition. Four of the five starters at the beginning of the season also started in 2011, when Maurice Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing. The Jaguars mixed in more man-blocking schemes as the season progressed and things got better, but the problem wasn’t “fixed.” In addition, Jones-Drew clearly was not the same player he was two years ago. He missed all but six games last season with a Lisfranc injury and also battled ankle, knee and hamstring issues this season.

Biggest need: The Jaguars have a pretty long list of needs, but two stand out above all others: quarterback and pass-rusher. Quarterback is the top need because former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert isn’t the answer and neither is Chad Henne, who will be a free agent but wants to return to Jacksonville in 2014. The Jaguars haven’t had a bona fide threat at quarterback since coach Jack Del Rio put Mark Brunell on the bench for Byron Leftwich in 2003. New general manager David Caldwell and Bradley need a player around which to build the franchise, and the Jaguars will have the opportunity to possibly find one when they pick third overall in May’s draft.

Team MVP: The first impulse is to go with middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, whose 161 tackles ranked second in the NFL. He was clearly the team’s best defensive player and arguably the best overall player. However, what Henne did to stabilize the offense earns him MVP honors. Gabbert had played terribly in the first part of the season (seven INTs, one TD) and Henne stepped in and played the most consistent football of his career. He didn’t always light it up and he made some poor decisions and mistakes, but he kept the Jaguars in games in the second half of the season and made enough plays to go 4-4 after the bye. He threw nine touchdown passes -- including the game winner against Cleveland with 40 seconds to play -- and five interceptions over the final five games.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars had 18 players on Wednesday's injury report but only three, all of whom are receivers, are in jeopardy of not being available for Sunday's game at the Houston Texans.

Starter Mike Brown (shoulder) and Stephen Burton (concussion) were among eight players who did not practice on Wednesday. Brown was hurt during the Jaguars' 27-14 loss to Arizona last Sunday. He is averaging a team-high 17.0 yards per catch (17 catches for 289 yards).

Linebacker Geno Hayes (knee) and defensive tackle Abry Jones (back) also missed practice because of injuries. Defensive end Jason Babin, running back Maurice Jones-Drew, defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, center Brad Meester, and defensive tackle Roy Miller were given a veteran's day off.

Cornerback Will Blackmon (shoulder), cornerback Dwayne Gratz (hip), safety Winston Guy (hamstring), tight end Danny Noble (hamstring), linebacker Paul Posluszny (concussion), guard Will Rackley (concussion), receiver Cecil Shorts (groin), receiver Stephen Williams (Achilles) and receiver Kerry Taylor (toe) were limited.

Film review: Motion key on big play

November, 20, 2013
11/20/13
12:30
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Clay Harbor wasn't the intended target, nor was he even touched on the play, but he played a critical role in the Jaguars’ successful fourth-down touchdown against Arizona last Sunday.

The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Harbor was one of three tight ends the Jaguars used on the fourth-and-1 play from their own 38-yard line early in the first quarter. His pre-snap motion -- in which he went right, left, and back right again -- confused the linebackers and safeties and was the reason Noble was able to get wide open.

"The most important thing was the motion," quarterback Chad Henne said. "Yo-yoing the motion and getting him to sprint out right kind of threw the defense off guard. They thought we were going to go right and we went left with it."

[+] EnlargeDanny Noble
AP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackDanny Noble took his first career reception 62 yards for a score against the Cardinals.
A look at the film shows exactly what happened:

The Jaguars went with three tight ends, fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou, running back Maurice Jones-Drew and no receivers. Danny Noble, whom the team signed to the practice squad Oct. 9, and Marcedes Lewis lined up tight on the left and right side of the formation, respectively. Harbor lined up one step behind the line of scrimmage off Noble’s left hip.

When Harbor went in motion to his right, cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Tyrann Mathieu slid across the formation with him. Harbor then went back to his left for two steps before turning around and going back right. You can see the reversal caused confusion between linebackers Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington, with Washington pointing and waving his left hand.

At the snap, Noble releases and brushes by linebacker John Abraham and heads up the hashmarks before curling toward the numbers. Henne play-fakes the ball to Jones-Drew, who goes low to block Abraham while Ta’ufo’ou heads into the flat.

Henne looks at Ta’ufo’ou, which causes Mathieu and Washington to make a beeline for the flat. Peterson, who was simply backpedaling after the snap, never sees Noble until he catches the ball. At that point it becomes a footrace.

Peterson eventually catches Noble at the 12-yard line but he grabs high and slides off Noble’s hip at the 5-yard line.

Coach Gus Bradley said Henne deserves credit for not taking the quick throw to Ta’ufo’ou, who was open and would have made the first down and instead going to Noble. That’s a decision he may not have made earlier this season.

"I think earlier in the season Chad may have thrown it to Will in the flat and we would have all been sitting here saying, ‘Oh, if he would have just throw it to Noble we had a chance for an explosive play,’ and he did it," Bradley said. "He was looking at the fullback but he hung in there and threw it to Nobes and we got a big play off of it."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Observed in the locker room after the Jacksonville Jaguars' 27-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Preplanned surprise: Head coach Gus Bradley said he and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch planned to go for the first down on a fourth down at some point in the game. He just didn’t expect it to be from their own 38-yard line less than three minutes into the game. “That was a little bit out of the range [they wanted], but I just felt like we needed it at that time,” Bradley said. The misdirection play resulted in a 62-yard touchdown by little-used tight end Danny Noble.

Jones-Drew
Stifled: Maurice Jones-Drew managed just 23 yards on 14 carries against the Cardinals' third-ranked rush defense. He gained 9 yards on one run, meaning he had 14 yards on his other 13 carries. The 23 yards is tied for the second-lowest total of his career in games in which he had 10 or more carries. His lowest was 10 yards on 10 carries against Indianapolis in 2007.

No comment: Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin spoke for a few minutes about ripping out a chunk of Andre Ellington's hair, but when another member of the media arrived late and asked him about it again, he politely declined to comment. Why? Because the question was phrased like this: Have you ever held another man’s hair up in your hands like that? As he joked afterward, answering a question phrased that way can only result in his comments getting twisted or taken out of context.

Rapid Reaction: Jacksonville Jaguars

November, 17, 2013
11/17/13
4:07
PM ET

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 27-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

What it means: The Jaguars were trying to achieve something that hasn't happened since 2010: win back-to-back games. They beat Tennessee and Oakland in consecutive weeks in December that season but have won just eight games since. There is a silver lining in the loss, though. Tampa Bay was routing the Falcons, which leaves the Jaguars as the league's only team with a single victory and puts them in the lead for the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 draft.

Stock watch: Punter Bryan Anger had perhaps his best game of the season, averaging nearly 50 yards per punt and pinning the Cardinals deep in their own territory. In the third quarter alone he forced the Cardinals into starting drives on their 9-, 10- and 2-yard line. Anger kept the Jaguars in the game while the offense sputtered in the second half. Cornerback Alan Ball had a solid game, too, by breaking up four passes in the first half -- three of which were intended for Michael Floyd.

TOs overturned: The Jaguars had what appeared to be two turnovers deep in Arizona territory wiped out. Patrick Peterson fumbled a punt at his own 10-yard line. Three Jaguars pounced on the ball but somehow Peterson came out with it and the Cardinals retained possession. Replays appeared to show long-snapper Carson Tinker coming out of the pile with the ball and the Jaguars challenged the play, but officials upheld the ruling on the field. Two plays later, middle linebacker Russell Allen intercepted Carson Palmer's pass to Larry Fitzgerald, but officials announced after the play that the Cardinals had called timeout before the snap.

Sneaky: The Jaguars scored their first touchdown on an interesting fourth-and-1 call. They lined up at their own 38 with extra tight ends. The Cardinals played run all the way, and the play-action fake allowed recently acquired tight end Danny Noble to get behind the first level of defenders. Chad Henne hit him with a good pass and Noble broke a tackle to score a 62-yard touchdown. What made the play work is the fact that Noble is a blocking tight end who had played in only five games and never had a catch until Sunday.

What's next: The Jaguars will play at Houston on Sunday.

SPONSORED HEADLINES