PITTSBURGH -- The offense was backed up on its own 1-yard line when Landry Jones made the kind of throw that showed why the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted the former Oklahoma star in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft.
Jones confidently hung in the pocket on third down and fit a pass into a fairly tight window, hitting Will Johnson on a seam route that initially netted 19 yards. The Carolina Panthers successfully challenged the spot after Johnson was brought down near the 20-yard line, and what resulted in an 18-yard gain left the Steelers a yard short of a first down.
That didn’t take away from what was easily Jones’ best play in the Steelers' final preseason game.
And the question with final cuts looming is whether the second-year man made enough throws like the aforementioned one to earn a spot on the Steelers’ 53-man roster.
“I have no idea,” Jones said late Thursday night. “That’s so far out of my control I don’t even like to think about it because it stresses me out.”
Jones put himself in a precarious situation by only throwing for 224 yards in three preseason games and not once leading a drive that resulted in a touchdown. The 6-foot-3, 221-pounder still holds onto the ball too long as evidenced by the six times he was sacked in the preseason -- or double the combined number that Ben Roethlisberger and Bruce Gradkowski were dropped.
“There’s still some growing pains right now but that’s a part of it,” Jones said after completing 14 of 18 passes for 97 yards in a 10-0 loss to the Panthers, “being in a new offense, being in a new system, playing in the NFL. But I feel like I’ve come a long way from last year.”
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Jones “did some good things” against the Panthers. But when asked if he is confident that the Steelers’ No. 3 quarterback is on the roster right now, Tomlin said, “I’m not confident of anything right now in that regard.”
I have Jones making the team in my final projection of the Steelers' 53-man roster. They like to carry three quarterbacks and it is too early for them to give up on Jones after investing a relatively high draft pick on him.
He made just enough of a closing argument to stick around for another season as the No. 3 quarterback.