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Steelers

Steelers QB Jones aiming for better results from 2nd career start

| Monday, Nov. 9, 2015, 10:06 p.m.
Steelers quarterback Landry Jones delivers a fourth-quarter pass against the Raiders on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015, at Heinz Field.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Steelers quarterback Landry Jones delivers a fourth-quarter pass against the Raiders on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015, at Heinz Field.

We already know Landry Jones can close a game — he's done it twice in four weeks successfully for the Steelers.

Jones even joked about it following his latest relief appearance, in which he led the Steelers to the winning score in the final minute against the Raiders.

“I am going to sprint out there like (former Braves closer) John Rocker used to do,” Jones said with a laugh.

A casual jog to the huddle after the opening kickoff will do for the Steelers on Sunday.

Jones will get at least one more chance at showing he is a capable starter when the Steelers (5-4) play the Browns (2-7) at Heinz Field. With all due respect, the Steelers are hoping it will be Jones' last start of the season.

Ben Roethlisberger's mid-foot sprain suffered midway through the fourth quarter Sunday will keep him out at least a couple of weeks.

With the Steelers having a bye week following Sunday's game against the Browns, Roethlisberger has until Nov. 29 to get healthy.

Dr. David Geier, an orthopedic and sports medicine specialist based in South Carolina, said if all the bones line up appropriately in Roethlisberger's foot a return at the end of the month would be realistic.

“I'd think if there was more to it, they would have seen it on X-ray or MRI,” Geier said of a possible, more significant Lisfranc injury. “Of course, healing and being ready to plant and cut on it can require different amounts of time.”

Until Roethlisberger is ready to return, the Steelers will turn to Jones. Unlike a month ago, the Steelers are confident with the former Oklahoma quarterback running the offense.

“It is just a comfort level,” safety Mike Mitchell said. “What I do see is his command and his comfort and confidence in the huddle, his demeanor. He makes checks with AB (Antonio Brown). You are not making that kind of check, a back shoulder fade where there is a run call, unless you are feeling pretty confident that you are going to execute that.”

Jones said the belief his teammates have in him helps his.

“That's a huge confidence-builder,” Jones said. “Hearing those guys say ‘Ben's down, OK.' It's just a huge confidence-builder where I can cut it loose and play.”

It wasn't like that for Jones in late August when backup Bruce Gradkowski injured his hand in the preseason forcing him to season-ending injured reserve.

The Steelers were so unsure with Jones at the time that they brought in veteran Mike Vick and immediately put him in the backup role.

Vick stayed there until a hamstring injury early in the third quarter against the Cardinals forced Jones into the game in relief, where he completed 8 of 12 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Steelers to a 25-13 win.

Against the Raiders, Jones played the final seven minutes and went 4 of 6 for 79 yards, including a 57-yard catch-and-run to Brown with less than a minute left that led to the winning field goal.

“That's what we expect,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “He's shown playmaking abilities in those moments in the past. It's reasonable to expect him to deliver again, not that we don't appreciate it. We do.”

Jones didn't have as much success in the game he started against the Chiefs. With Roethlisberger and Vick out, Jones went 16 of 29 for 209 yards a touchdown and two interceptions in a 23-13 road loss.

In Jones' two relief appearances, he has a 146.8 passer rating. In his one start, his rating was 60.8.

“You always have to have a good insurance policy, just in case things like these happen,” running back DeAngelo Williams said. “Landry is more than capable of doing the job.”

Notes: Dri Archer was not claimed off waivers after the Steelers released the former third-round pick Thursday. According to a ProFootballTalk report, Archer passed on 10 offers to join practice squads, including one from the Steelers. Archer played only three offensive snaps this year. … Mitchell said Monday that the team doesn't get rattled easily, and the reason for that is Mike Tomlin. “He stays calm; we stay calm. When they don't panic, I think it just trickles down.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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