Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Jones disappointed in lack of production
By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH -- Steelers fans aren't the only ones disappointed that first-round pick Jarvis Jones hasn't made more of an impact during his rookie season.
"Everybody expected me to have 10, 12 sacks this year and I didn't do that," Jones said. "At the same time it's motivation for me. It motivates me for the offseason to come back to be a better all-around player."
Jones, the 17th overall pick of the 2013 NFL draft, has just one sack and 30 tackles.
Two games into the season, he became the first rookie to start at outside linebacker since the Steelers went to a 3-4 defense in 1982. But Jones has struggled to put pressure on the quarterback, missed a game because of a concussion and ceded the starting job he had taken from Jason Worilds at right outside linebacker.
Worilds has since flipped sides with LaMarr Woodley, leaving Jones hoping to get as many snaps as possible in the Steelers' final three games as the third man in the outside linebacker rotation.
All three outside linebackers could get on the field together Sunday night against the visiting Bengals in one of the Steelers' sub-packages with Woodley or Worilds playing inside linebacker.
"I'm too light to line up inside," Jones said with a laugh
Indeed Jones is listed at 6-2, 245 pounds, and one of his top priorities in the offseason will be getting bigger and improving his strength.
"Guys are getting bigger and faster and stronger every day around here so I think I need to join that club too," Jones said. "I think I improved in some things. I've still got a lot of work to do in a lot of areas."
Jones is still learning a new defense, and Troy Polamalu can empathize with some of the struggles the former has had during his first NFL season.
Polamalu, the Steelers' first-round pick in 2003, didn't play much outside of special teams as a rookie because of the difficulty of learning an NFL defense.
"Man, I was very frustrated," Polamalu recalled. "You're out there and you're thinking and you're not playing free and playing football. That's the frustrating thing about it because then you can't enjoy the game that you've grown to love. You tend to think because you're 21 years old that you've got it figured out."
Polamalu, who become a starter and a star in his second NFL season, said what Jones had experienced as a rookie is "very normal."
The former Georgia star has stayed upbeat despite his lack of production, and he said the experience from his rookie season will only make him a better player.
"Just looking around and paying attention to the older guys the way they prepare, the way they study they line up and see things happen before they happen, I've got to get myself to that level," Jones said. "That comes with a lot of studying. These next couple of weeks I'm going to continue what I've been doing and study more, try to better my technique and just continue to work."