Jarvis Jones Must Take Full Advantage of Playing Time at ROLB


Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I cannot say that I blame the Pittsburgh Steelers’ coaching staff for their recent desire to move LaMarr Woodley to the right outside linebacker position. Jason Worilds, who was Woodley’s backup at left outside linebacker from 2010-2012, has emerged as the team’s most potent pass rusher over the last few weeks.

Worilds has played so well that it only makes sense for Pittsburgh’s coaches to utilize the former Virginia Tech Hokie in the spot where he probably feels the most comfortable. While Woodley is willing to move to the right side and could possibly cede playing time to Worilds on the left, the move itself has not happened because the veteran has been sidelined by a calf injury.

Since Woodley is riding the pine at the moment, rookie Jarvis Jones still remains as his team’s number one option at the right outside linebacker spot. So until he is replaced by either Woodley or Worilds, it will be up to Pittsburgh’s most recent first round pick to take full advantage of all of the playing time he can receive down the stretch.

Jones’ rookie campaign has probably not gone the way he envisioned it after he was selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. After an impressive preseason, Jones parlayed his strong play into a starting job at right outside linebacker when he replaced Worilds at the position after the team’s opening game.

Out of position against the run and lacking the ability to collapse the pocket like he did at the college level, Jones had his fair share of troubles as a starter.

In fact, racked up only 14 tackles during his first five starts. Worst of all, Jones failed to record a single sack during that time period and was benched in favor of Worilds after the team’s 21-18 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Although Jones notched the first sack of his professional career against the Buffalo Bills in Week 10, he has been overshadowed by the play of Worilds since the former Virginia Tech Hokie moved over to the left side in Woodley’s place. Struggles aside, Jones is still in a prime position to grow as a player and improve during the final four regular season games of his rookie campaign.

Remember readers, Woodley is still hobbled, Worilds is probably not moving back to the right side since he has played so well on the left, so Jones should see plenty of snaps down the stretch for Pittsburgh. What Jones does with his extended playing time is still a mystery.

Yet it would be nothing short of awesome if the rookie could continue to improve and emerge as another pass rushing threat for the Steelers while they try to stay in the postseason hunt.

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