ShareThis Page

Steelers linebacker Jones vows to improve in 2nd NFL season

| Thursday, June 5, 2014, 10:12 p.m.
Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jone goes through drills during OTA practice tuesday, June 4, 2014 on the South Side.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jone goes through drills during OTA practice tuesday, June 4, 2014 on the South Side.
Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones goes through drills during OTA practice Thursday, May 29, 2014 on the South Side.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones goes through drills during OTA practice Thursday, May 29, 2014 on the South Side.

Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones knows a statistics-thin rookie season raised doubts about how good — or how disappointing — an NFL pass rusher he will be.

The doubters aren't going away, at least for now.

“He can hunt — he can find that ball and hunt — but I don't see him as an elite pass rusher in today's NFL because he doesn't have that burst that you've got to have,” NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes said. “He's a 3-4 edge rusher who doesn't have that super burst.”

Despite not having superlative speed — he ran a 4.9 40 on a chilly Georgia pro day last year — or significant stats in 2013 (only one sack), Jones was given a vote of confidence when the Steelers released former Pro Bowl linebacker LaMarr Woodley two months ago.

With Woodley now with the Raiders, Jones and Jason Worilds look to be locked in as the outside linebacker starters, barring injury.

After an intense offseason working out and studying the defense, and some strong practices to date, Jones thinks the Steelers will like what they see from him this season.

Mostly, they won't see what they saw last season.

“Things have slowed down for me. … Last year I was thinking too much, I wasn't able to react, play and do the things I like to do,” Jones said Thursday as the Steelers wrapped up the second of their four weeks of offseason practices.

“I'm more of a guy that moves and plays off instincts. Last year, I wasn't able to do that. I really didn't know what was going on around me as far as, if I'm rushing outside, I can't go inside the tackle because I've got a blitz coming up the middle. I wasn't able to be myself. I was limited to a lot of things.”

As Jones said, it's called “being a rookie.”

Linebackers coach Keith Butler agrees.

“He pretty much didn't know where to line up last year,” Butler said. “If somebody wasn't there to help him and tell him what he was supposed to be doing, he was playing half a second slow. The great thing about playing in this defense is that it is tough to play in your first year, but the second year everything slows down.”

The Steelers also brought in someone else to help — former Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter, who was hired as a defensive assistant in part so he could mentor Jones.

“He and Jarvis are probably the same guy, their style of play,” Butler said.

Jones is stronger, Butler said, although he remains listed at 6-foot-2 and 245 pounds.

“I see my game changing, as far as being in the weight room and grinding in there — I see it when I'm out here on the field,” Jones said. “It's getting better.”

Butler also was encouraged by Jones' play late in the season; Jones had 10 quarterback hurries in the final three games and 10 tackles in the final two games, including eight against the Browns. Overall, Jones' 25 QB hurries led the team.

“I didn't make as many plays as I should have, and they were out there,” Jones said. “But that's last year, and I'm looking at a totally different year.

“I'm just a whole lot better than I was last year.”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.