Wednesday, January 8, 2014
2013 position review: Tight ends
By Michael DiRocco
Each day for the next two weeks we’ll review how each position group performed in 2013, and take an early look at 2014. Today we’ll examine the tight ends. We didquarterbacks on Monday, running backs on Tuesday, and we will do wide receivers on Thursday.
Recap: Those five players combined to catch 56 passes for 754 yards and seven touchdowns, which isn’t that bad until you consider that 10 other tight ends caught more than 56 passes. The position most certainly would have been more productive had Lewis not suffered a calf injury that kept him out for all but two snaps during the first six weeks. He suffered the injury during warm-ups before the second preseason game and aggravated it twice more. When he did return it took him time to feel comfortable in the offense and for offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch to figure out the best way to use him. Everything came together in the final five games and Lewis caught 16 passes for 242 yards and four TDs in that span. He finished with 25 catches for 359 yards and four TDs.
Harbor (24 catches, 292 yards, two touchdowns) did a capable job of filling is as a pass catcher while Lewis was out of action early in the season, but he couldn’t come close to duplicating Lewis’ blocking skills and that’s partly why the Jaguars struggled to run the ball early in the season.
Reisner was a training camp story who caught five passes for 40 yards, got hurt and spent time on injured reserve, and was inactive for the final three games. Noble delivered one of the season’s highlights when he caught a 62-yard touchdown pass on fourth down against Arizona.
The skinny: There was some uncertainty that Lewis would be back in 2014 because he is scheduled to make $6.7 million and have a salary-cap value of $8.35 million. However, the Jaguars are more than $20 million under the salary cap and GM David Caldwell said Lewis’ cap number isn’t an issue. Lewis is optimistic about the kind of season he can have now that Fisch has figured out the best ways to use him and a 50-catch season isn’t out of reach.
Lewis is valued as much for his blocking, though. Having him gives the Jaguars additional help on the edge, which is something they don’t get from Noble. Barden was one of 10 players who signed a futures contract with the Jaguars after spending the final six weeks of the season on the practice squad.
It’s unclear whether Harbor or Reisner are in the Jaguars’ future plans, but it’s likely the Jaguars will at least explore the option of taking a tight end later in the draft.