Pittsburgh Steelers: Landry Jones

Emptying the notebook that still has a few nuggets from Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert’s sit-down with reporters last week …
  • Jones
    Jones
    It was hard to tell whether Colbert gave Landry Jones a vote of confidence after insisting that the third-string quarterback has made progress since the Steelers selected him in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. “I think he got better definitely from Year 1 to Year 2,” Colbert said. “He had more extended play this preseason. I thought there were signs where he did some things better than he did the year before.” Jones has yet to dress for a game in two NFL seasons and Colbert said Jones will go into the offseason practices behind starter Ben Roethlisberger and backup Bruce Gradkowski. “Has he progressed to the point where he beat out Bruce as the No. 2? No,” Colbert said. “Maybe he will; maybe he won't.”
  • Colbert said this year’s draft has “a nice group of cornerbacks,” and he will get a look at them at the NFL scouting combine, which starts Wednesday. The Steelers haven't selected a cornerback in the first round of the draft since Colbert joined the organization in 2000. But Colbert said that is not by design. “Never have we gone in [to a draft] and said we can’t take a position here in the first round.” Ricardo Colclough, a second-round pick in 2004 at No. 38 overall, is the highest Steelers draft pick for a cornerback since 2000.
  • The Steelers aren’t expecting much from the NFL’s owners meetings as far as the compensatory draft picks that will be awarded there. Compensatory picks are determined based on a complicated formula that calculates a team’s net loss or gain in free agents from the previous year. The Steelers lost a handful of free agents in 2014, including wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who became a Pro Bowl receiver in Denver. But they were also more active than usual signing free agents such as safety Mike Mitchell, cornerback Brice McCain, outside linebacker and, yes, running back LeGarrette Blount. The Steelers are hoping to get a late-round compensatory pick, at best, this year.
This is the first in a series that takes a closer look at the Pittsburgh Steelers' position groups with the free agency and the draft approaching.

Under contract: Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski and Landry Jones are all signed through next season. Roethlisberger and Gradkowski are each entering the final year of their respective contracts.

Free agents: None.

Roethlisberger
The good: Roethlisberger is seemingly getting better with age. Three of his four 4,000-yard passing seasons have come since he turned 29, and Roethlisberger shared the NFL passing title last season with New Orleans' Drew Brees, as each threw for 4,952 yards. Roethlisberger is in line for another big contract after signing an eight-year, $102 million deal in 2008, the most lucrative in franchise history. The Steelers should be able to lock up Roethlisberger for the rest of his career and create immediate room under the salary cap by lowering his cap number ($18.395 million) for 2015.

The bad: Gradkowski is a capable reserve, but is Landry Jones a viable No. 2 quarterback if the Steelers don’t bring back Gradkowski after the 2015 season? The Steelers have little idea what they have in Jones, who has yet to suit up for a game in two seasons and has produced mixed results in preseason action.

The burning question: What will Roethlisberger’s final contract with the Steelers look like? It will probably be five or six years with possible compensation exceeding $100 million. For comparison sake Brees signed a five-year, $100 million contact that included $55 million in guaranteed money in 2012 when he was 33 years old. Roethlisberger turns 33 on March 2.

The money: Roethlisberger’s base salary is $11.6 million in 2015, but that will change with his new deal. Gradkowski and Jones are scheduled to make $1.55 million and $585,000, respectively, in 2015, so the Steelers don’t have a lot of cash tied up in Roethlisberger’s backups.

Draft priority: Low. It’s too early to start looking for Roethlisberger’s eventual successor. And the Steelers have too many other needs to spend a pick on a backup quarterback after taking Jones in the fourth round of the 2013 draft.

He said it: “I hear that term thrown around too often to be quite honest with you. If you follow professional football you would think half the teams in the league have a franchise quarterback, and we all know that’s not the case. We have a good quarterback. I like him. I would like to keep him.” – Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on the importance of having a franchise quarterback.
Here is the latest Pittsburgh Steelers' mailbag. If you have a question please send to @ScottBrown_ESPN with the #mail. And away we go...


@ScottBrown_ESPN: Le'Veon Bell is going to be the every-down back but the Steelers need an upgrade behind him unless they think Josh Harris develops into the kind of player who can handle a heavy workload if Bell is out. The Steelers are bracing for a one-game suspension of Bell, probably at the beginning of 2015, because of his arrest for marijuana possession and driving under the influence. Injuries, meanwhile, are always an X factor, so someone better be ready behind Bell. This appears to be a deep draft for running backs and that's the way the Steelers have to go after what happened with LeGarrette Blount. They should be able to find a quality back in the middle rounds, after they have addressed their myriad needs on defense.


@ScottBrown_ESPN It's so tough to tell because of the limited repetitions Landry Jones gets in practice. Through little if any fault of his own, it is simply a wasted draft pick unless Jones makes enough progress to supplant Bruce Gradkowski as the No. 2 quarterback. Even if that happens -- and that is a big if at this point -- why would the Steelers use a fourth-round draft pick in 2013 on a quarterback when they had so many other needs and after they had signed Gradkowski to back up Ben Roethlisberger? The Steelers had three different quarterbacks start games in 2012 because of injuries so that is the best explanation why they took Jones in the following draft even when they had already gotten younger at quarterback behind Roethlisberger.


@ScottBrown_ESPN: Yep, could definitely see them having an interest in the former University of Washington standout if he is still available when they make their second-round pick. Marcus Peters is one of the most talented cornerbacks in the draft though he has some questions to answer -- first and foremost why he got kicked off the team last season. It's hard to imagine the Steelers taking a chance on Peters in the first round even as needy as they are at cornerback. What they will have to determine during the pre-draft process is whether he is worth the risk. The Steelers, like every other NFL team, will do their homework on Peters before ultimately deciding when they are willing to gamble on him if they are at all.


@ScottBrown_ESPN: Steelers president Art Rooney II said recently that there have not been any talks on that front. I expect discussions to really start now with the 2014 season in the books and free agency on the horizon. Roethlisberger is under contract for next season, but it would help the Steelers if they get a new deal done before March 10 (the start of free agency), so they can lower his cap hit of $18.395 million in 2015 and use the savings to address other areas of need. Rooney has said the Steelers aren't setting any sort of deadlines as far as signing Roethlisberger and I assure you a deal will get done. For comparison sake, Roethlisberger signed his eight-year, $102 million contract in 2008 on March 3.


@ScottBrown_ESPN: I would be surprised if they get a third-round compensatory draft pick this year. The formula for determining compensatory picks is based on how many free agents a team signed and how many it lost the previous year. The Steelers were busier than usual last March signing free agents such as safety Mike Mitchell, outside linebacker Arthur Moats, cornerback Brice McCain and defensive end/nose tackle Cam Thomas. All started at least eight games in 2014 and Mitchell started every game last season. Emmanuel Sanders had a heck of a season in Denver, catching 101 passes for 1,404 and nine touchdowns, but unless I am missing somebody Sanders was the only free agent who left the Steelers and became a full-time starter elsewhere. I don't believe linebacker Larry Foote counts when it comes to determining compensatory picks since the Steelers released the veteran before he signed with the Arizona Cardinals. I am interested to hear general Kevin Colbert's thoughts on what the Steelers expect to receive as far as compensatory picks. They will be announced at the NFL owners meetings in late March.


@ScottBrown_ESPN: Lawrence Timmons can play outside if the Steelers need him there because of injuries, something he did in 2011 when he started four games at right outside linebacker in place of James Harrison. But I don't think the Steelers would even entertain such a move full-time for Timmons. Coach Mike Tomlin said in early January that even with the depth the Steelers have at inside linebacker, none of those players stand out as candidates who could move outside. And why even consider a position change for Timmons? He is a Pro Bowl inside linebacker and is probably just another guy at outside linebacker.



PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell did not practice for the second consecutive day as a small window for the second-year man to return from a hyperextended knee closed a little more on the first day of 2015.

Bell, who was not in the locker room while it was open to the media late Thursday afternoon, only has one more day to try to practice before the Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC wild-card playoff game.

Strong safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor each practiced for the second consecutive day, keeping them on track to play against the Ravens.

Taylor has missed the past three games because of forearm and shoulder injuries while Polamalu has not played in the Steelers’ past two games due to a knee injury.

Bell, outside linebacker James Harrison (illness) and quarterback Landry Jones (illness) were the only players who weren’t full participants in Pittsburgh’s penultimate practice of the week.

Offensive tackle Mike Adams returned to practice after missing drills Wednesday because of an illness. Nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder) and tight end Michael Palmer (groin) were full participants in practice after each was limited in drills a day earlier.
ATLANTA -- The Pittsburgh Steelers won’t have to worry about Julio Jones, the NFL’s leading receiver, but they do have some injury concerns of their own Sunday when they play the Atlanta Falcons.

The Steelers, who are trying to improve to 9-5, will be without right tackle Marcus Gilbert, outside linebacker James Harrison and cornerback Ike Taylor.

Gilbert will miss his third consecutive game because of ankle and knee injuries, and the fourth-year veteran is a surprise scratch for the 1 p.m. ET game at the Georgia Dome.

Gilbert practiced last week and had been listed as probable on the Steelers’ final injury report of the week. Mike Adams will start in his place at right tackle.

Harrison had been listed as questionable after he was only able to practice on a limited basis last week. He will miss his second consecutive game because of a knee injury.

Taylor is also out as expected after the 12th-year veteran did not practice last week because of shoulder and forearm injuries.

The Steelers’ four healthy scratches Sunday are rookie running back Dri Archer, wide receiver Justin Brown, quarterback Landry Jones and defensive end Clifton Geathers.

The Falcons' Jones, who leads the NFL with 1,428 receiving yards, had been listed as questionable on the Falcons’ final injury report of the week because of a hip injury. The Falcons will also be without starting safety William Moore, who hurt his ankle last Monday night in Green Bay.
CINCINNATI -- The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without two starters today against the Cincinnati Bengals and rookie running back Dri Archer is among the five players who are healthy scratches for the 1 p.m. ET game.

Archer
Harrison
Harrison
Outside linebacker James Harrison will miss his first game since re-signing with the Steelers in September because of a knee injury. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert will miss his second consecutive game because of ankle and knee injuries.

Archer is the surprise on the Steelers’ seven-man inactives list as Pittsburgh will go with Josh Harris, who has yet to carry the ball in an NFL regular-season game, and fullback Will Johnson behind starting running back Le’Veon Bell.

Archer practiced all week and was not listed on the Steelers' final injury report last week. Not dressing Sunday is another step back for the third-round draft pick who lost his job as the primary kickoff returner earlier this season and has been a non-factor on offense.

Joining Archer as healthy scratches for the Steelers are wide receiver Justin Brown, cornerback B.W. Webb, defensive end Clifton Geathers and quarterback Landry Jones.

Linebacker Ryan Shazier will return to action after missing the last three games because of a high-ankle sprain. Nose tackle Steve McLendon is back after missing the last two games because of a bad shoulder.

Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones will play in his first game since dislocating his right wrist on Sept. 21 in a win at Carolina.

Steelers without RT Marcus Gilbert

November, 30, 2014
11/30/14
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PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert won't play Sunday -- as expected -- after injuring his ankle last week in practice.

Gilbert and linebacker Ryan Shazier are among the Steelers players who have been de-activated for Pittsburgh’s 1 p.m. ET game against the New Orleans Saints.

Mike Adams will start in place of Gilbert for the second time this season. Sean Spence and Vince Williams will play in place of Shazier at weakside inside linebacker.

Shazier, who had been questionable for today's game, will miss his third consecutive contest because of a high ankle sprain.

Starting nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder) and cornerback Cortez Allen (thumb) also won’t play today because of injuries.

The Steelers’ healthy scratches include wide receiver Justin Brown, cornerback B.W. Webb and quarterback Landry Jones.
NASHVILLE -- Zach Mettenberger has to beat a team that is 18-2 against rookie quarterbacks since 2004.

And he will have to do so without one of the Tennessee Titans’ top offensive players.

Tight end Delanie Walker, who was knocked out of the Titans’ 21-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday with a concussion, will not play tonight against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Walker leads the Titans with 512 receiving yards and is second on the team with 38 catches.

The Steelers are without four defensive starters tonight because of injuries, including safety Troy Polamalu (knee), linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle), cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) and nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder). Reserve safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) also won’t play tonight.

The Steelers’ healthy scratches are quarterback Landry Jones and guard Chris Hubbard.
PITTSBURGH -- Jordan Dangerfield had been playing in the obscure FXFL before the Pittsburgh Steelers signed him to their practice squad this week.

Now it looks like the former Brooklyn Bolts safety will play in his first NFL game.

Polamalu
The Steelers are down to three safeties on their 53-man roster after they ruled out Ross Ventrone (hamstring) from playing Sunday against the New York Jets.

Troy Polamalu (knee) and Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) have also been ruled out of the 1 p.m. ET game at MetLife Stadium.

The lack of bodies behind starting free safety Mike Mitchell and strong safety Will Allen, who will fill in for Polamalu, makes it likely that the Steelers sign Dangerfield from the practice squad to provide depth and also play special teams.

Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was limited in practice because of a hamstring injury, though he is listed as probable for Sunday along with starting outside linebacker Jason Worilds (abdomen).

Worilds has practiced the past two days after sitting out drills on Wednesday.

Five Steelers have been ruled out because of injuries with linebacker Ryan Shazier (ankle) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) joining Polamalu, Thomas and Ventrone on the list.

My guess is the Steelers waive Ventrone with the intention of bringing him back and sign Dangerfield from the practice squad.

That would leave guard Chris Hubbard and quarterback Landry Jones as the Steelers’ healthy scratches, and either nose tackle Daniel McCullers or wide receiver Justin Brown.

I think Brown would get the nod over McCullers as far as getting a helmet on Sunday, because he can fill in on special teams if needed.
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers will be close to full strength Sunday when they host the Baltimore Ravens for an 8:30 p.m. ET game.

 Nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder) and right tackle Marcus Gilbert (concussion) are expected to return to action on Sunday. Safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring) is also expected to play after missing the past three games.

Gilbert, who didn’t play in the Steelers’ 51-34 win over the Indianapolis Colts, and McLendon, who has missed the past two games, practiced all week and as listed as probable for Sunday on the team’s final injury report of the week.

Starting free safety Mike Mitchell was also a full participant in the Steelers’ final practice of the week, and he is listed as probable for the Ravens game. Mitchell had been limited in practice on Thursday because of a groin injury.

The only Steelers players who have been ruled out for Sunday are safety Ross Ventrone (hamstring) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm).

Taylor practiced all week on a limited basis as he works his way back from a broken forearm.

With Taylor and Ventrone out, here are my projected healthy scratches for Sunday: nose tackle Daniel McCullers, wide receiver Justin Brown, cornerback B.W. Webb, guard Chris Hubbard and quarterback Landry Jones.

 
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier will start today against the Indianapolis Colts after missing the last four games with a sprained knee.

Shazier has been listed as probable on Pittsburgh's final injury of the week and his return should help the Steelers with tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener a prominent part of the Colts’ passing game.

The Steelers will be without one of the starters on their offensive line against the Colts, who are tied for third in the NFL with 21 sacks.

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert has been deactivated after suffering a concussion last Monday night in the Steelers’ 30-23 win over the Houston Texans. Mike Adams will make his first start of the season in place of Adams.

Joining Gilbert on the Steelers’ inactives list because of injuries are nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder), cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) and safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring).

Wide receiver Justin Brown, cornerback B.W. Webb and quarterback Landry Jones are the Steelers’ healthy scratches.

The Colts are without starting wide receiver Reggie Wayne (elbow) and Hakeem Nicks will start in his place. Running back Trent Richardson (hamstring) will play against the Steelers but the third-year man will be limited.

Ahmad Bradshaw will start in place of Richardson.
PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier is likely to return to action on Sunday after missing the last four games because of a sprained knee.

Shazier is listed as probable for the Steelers’ 4:25 p.m. ET game against the visiting Indianapolis Colts on the team’s final injury report of the week.

Shazier
The Steelers will probably be without a starter on the offensive side of the ball as right tackle Marcus Gilbert is listed as doubtful after suffering a concussion last Monday night. Mike Adams will start his first game this season if Gilbert is unable to play against the Colts.

The Steelers have ruled out safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring), nose tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder) and cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) for Sunday.

The Colts have ruled out starting wide receiver Reggie Wayne (elbow) for their first game in Pittsburgh since 2008 while running back Trent Richardson (hamstring) is questionable.

Here are my projected healthy scratches for the Steelers with the assumption that Gilbert won’t play against the Colts: wide receiver Justin Brown, quarterback Landry Jones and cornerback B.W. Webb.
PITTSBURGH -- Wide receiver Martavis Bryant and nose tackle Daniel McCullers will each dress for their first NFL game when the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Houston Texans tonight at 8:30 ET.

Bryant takes the game-day roster spot of Justin Brown, who is inactive for the first time this season. McCullers, who is also a rookie, is dressing with starting nose tackle Steve McLendon out because of a shoulder injury.

The Steelers will wait another week to bring back Ryan Shazier, who has been out since spraining his right knee in a Sept. 21 game.

Shazier, who ran on the field before the game and tested his knee under the watchful eye of trainers John Norwig, joins McLendon, cornerback Ike Taylor (forearm) and Shamarko Thomas on the Steelers’ inactives list because of injuries.

The Steelers' three healthy scratches are Brown, quarterback Landry Jones and guard Chris Hubbard.

Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney will miss his sixth consecutive game because of a right knee injury. Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft, tested his knee before the game but the Texans will err on the side of caution.
CLEVELAND -- A Pittsburgh-area kid will live out his dream today at FirstEnergy Field.

Ross Ventrone, who grew up in suburban Pittsburgh, will play for the Steelers against the Cleveland Browns after getting promoted from the practice squad.

The Steelers signed Ventrone on Saturday afternoon with safety Shamarko Thomas, a key special-teams player, out for the 1 p.m. ET game because of a hamstring injury.

The Steelers released rookie offensive lineman Wesley Johnson to make room on the 53-man roster for Ventrone. Johnson, a fifth-round draft pick, will likely be re-signed once Thomas is healthy.

The Vanderbilt product will have to clear waivers first but any team that claims Johnson would have to put the 6-5, 297-pounder on its 53-man roster.

Johnson has not dressed in five games with the Steelers.

Ventrone appeared in eight games for the New England Patriots in 2011, and recorded a pair of tackles, including one on special teams. The 5-8, 195-pounder starred at Bridgeville High School and Villanova before signing with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2010.

Here is the projected Steelers' inactives list for their rematch with the Browns with Thomas, linebacker Ryan Shazier (knee) and cornerback Ike Taylor (arm) already ruled out because of injuries: wide receiver Martavis Bryant, nose tackle Daniel McCullers, guard Chris Hubbard and quarterback Landry Jones.
PITTSBURGH -- It looks like wide receiver Martavis Bryant or mammoth nose tackle Daniel McCullers could dress on Sunday when the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Cleveland Browns.

Shazier
Three Steelers players have been ruled out for the 1 p.m. ET game, including linebacker Ryan Shazier (knee) and safety Shamarko Thomas (hamstring).

Shazier practiced Friday on a limited basis for the second consecutive day, but will miss his third straight game as he works his way back from a sprained knee.

Shazier is expected to do more next week and he will have an extra day to get better with the Steelers hosting the Houston Texans for a "Monday Night Football" game.

With quarterback Landry Jones, guard Chris Hubbard and offensive lineman Wesley Johnson expected to join Shazier, Thomas and cornerback Ike Taylor (arm) on the seven-man inactives list, Bryant or McCullers are the most likely candidates to make the 46-man gameday roster when the Steelers play the Browns.

Neither has dressed for a game this season.

The Steelers could sign safety Ross Ventrone or rookie cornerback Shaquille Richardson from the practice squad if they want an extra defensive back for depth and special teams with Thomas and Taylor out.

But they would have to make a roster move to promote Ventrone or Richardson and risk exposing a player on their 53-man roster to waivers.

It probably makes more sense for the Steelers to dress Bryant.

Bryant has the size that the Steelers might want to take advantage of when they get in the red zone, and the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder can probably play special team in a pinch if needed.

The fourth-round pick has practiced on a regular basis since overcoming an early season shoulder injury, and offensive coordinator Todd Haley said on Thursday that he has been pleased with Bryant’s work.

"He is making progress," Haley said, "no doubt about it."

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