Jags add veteran assistant Henderson to coaching staff

Updated: January 25, 2008, 3:01 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

The Jacksonville Jaguars have added veteran NFL assistant Donnie Henderson to coach Jack Del Rio's staff in a role that will be defined at a later date.

Despite his experience as a defensive coordinator with two franchises, Henderson will not fill that role, Del Rio said. The Jaguars are seeking to replace coordinator Mike Smith, who was hired by the Atlanta Falcons as their new head coach.

Del Rio continues to consider coaches for the coordinator job and, while the possibility exists that he will promote someone from his current staff, he is also eyeing outside candidates as well. There were rumors Del Rio had some discussions with Brian VanGorder, who was named the Atlanta defensive coordinator on Thursday, about the job. VanGorder served as the Jacksonville linebackers coach in 2005.

Sources at the Senior Bowl earlier this week told ESPN.com that Del Rio was poised to add Henderson to his staff as what some league people call a "walking-around coach." That's league-speak for a coach who does not have responsibility for a specific position but surveys a variety of areas for the head coach. With the Jaguars, he may concentrate primarily on the secondary.

"He brings a tough attitude," Del Rio told the Florida Times-Union. "We're very excited to bring him on the staff."

Henderson, 50, is an eight-year NFL veteran.

He last worked in the league full-time as the Detroit Lions' defensive coordinator in 2006. He was the defensive coordinator for the New York Jets for two seasons (2004-05) and served as the secondary coach for the Baltimore Ravens 1999-2003.

Last season, Henderson served as a part-time consultant to Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. There was some thought that Lewis might hire Henderson full-time to replace Chuck Bresnahan, who was dismissed at the end of the 2007 season. Lewis opted instead to hire former Atlanta coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Del Rio is familiar with Henderson from having worked with him on the Baltimore staff.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.