There may not be a more tenuous position on the Buccaneers roster than tight end, where coach Greg Schiano is counting heavily on a 33-year-old veteran coming off back-to-back injury-plagued seasons and a second-year pro who can't seem to stay healthy himself.
Given the wobbly health of Dallas Clark, who has missed 15 games the last two years with wrist and lower-leg injuries, and backup Luke Stocker, who missed time last year with a hip problem and most of last week because he "wasn't feeling well,'' the Bucs need someone to step up from the bottom of the depth chart. And perhaps someone has.
Little known Danny Noble, an undrafted free agent out of Toledo, is currently sitting at the bottom of the Bucs tight end depth chart, but he was the one who replaced Clark after a couple of plays against the Titans on Friday and spent a good portion of the evening working with the first team offense.
He proved rather effective, too, eventually leading a plodding Bucs offense with two catches for 11 yards, which was more or less an extension of what he's done since he first put on a Bucs uniform last April.
Brought to the Bucs rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, Noble was one of a handful of players to earn contracts during that camp and he's been one of the more impressive players in training camp workouts as well.
It was, in fact, his work in training camp drills that earned him the opportunity to move up to the first team on Friday, so there's a chance he can provide the Bucs with the depth their looking for at one of the more critical spots on the field.
"You know how it is,'' Schiano said. "When one guy goes down, it's another guy's opportunity, and Danny had done enough to warrant giving him more plays when Luke went down.
"Was he spectacular (on Friday)? No. But I thought he did a good job for a guy in his first real bunch of action. And that's promising. So we'll just keep moving forward with it.''
At 6-foot-5 and 248 pounds, Noble is certainly built for the position. He has also displayed a bit of a knack for finding the end zone. In college he turned six of his 22 pass receptions as a junior and senior into touchdowns.
"I think Danny has done some good things here and he's getting better,'' Schiano said. "They say you're lucky when preparation meets opportunity, so we'll see what happens there.''
Blount force trauma
Bucs rookie RB Doug Martin has already displayed an ability to break a tackles and add extra yards to a run after contact. He's got a ways to go, though, if he hopes to surpass teammate LeGarrette Blount in that area.
Blount finished the 2011 season tied for 10th in the league with Chris Johnson in the category of most broken tackles by a running back with 30, according to stats compiled by Football Outsiders.
The leader in that category a year ago was LeSean McCoy of Philadelphia with 50 broken tackles. He and Michael Turner of the Falcons (42) were the only two players to break more than 40 tackles.
On the fly
One thing Schiano says he learned during his previous 11 years as a head coach is that you have to make adjustments on the fly if you hope to win. You certainly can't wait until halftime to adjust, he said.
"I love it when people talk about halftime adjustments,'' Schiano said. "I mean, you get 12 minutes (at halftime) and by the time you get in there there's 10 minutes left and you have to leave with two minutes left.
"That's eight minutes right there. You get longer than that on the sidelines between series. So to me it's in-game adjustments all the way through, whether it's technique or scheme.''