It seems like years ago, but it was just this past summer at training camp in Latrobe where the Steeler Nation got it’s first look at Howard Jones.
If you’ve forgotten, Jones was a free agent rookie from Shepard who burst onto the scene with his long body and athleticism. Jones is about as raw as you can get in terms of his overall football ability but if ever a guy had potential, it’s Jones.
He didn’t see any game time this past season and spent the entire year on the practice squad but he should not let them deter him. It wasn’t so long ago that a guy named James Harrison spent time on the practice squad as well.
There is a lot speculation that the Steelers will choose an outside linebacker with the number one pick in the upcoming draft. With the potential loss of Jason Worilds in free agency and expected vacancy created by James Harrison not being re-signed, there is a huge need at the position.
We can probably pencil in Jarvis Jones at one OLB spot but after that, the question marks get bigger. Will the Steelers re-sign Arthur Moats? For my money I believe they should and I don’t think he got as much playing time as he should have in 2014.
There is also another intriguing guy in Jordan Zumwalt who looked good when he practiced at camp but injuries eventually forced him to the Reserve/Injured list. From what I’m hearing, his rehab has gone well and he looks to be a guy in the mix in 2015.
That brings us back to Howard Jones. At 6’4″ 238 lbs, Jones is a little on the lighter side when it comes to a 3-4 outside backer. But we must also remember this is now a defense under the leadership of Keith Butler.
This can mean one of two things; either Jones will be given a bigger opportunity or he’ll be phased out if he doesn’t fit Butler’s plans.
Go back to those preseason games where Jones was forcing fumbles and pressuring the pocket. Yes, those are preseason games against guys who likely aren’t in the NFL today but we still can’t take away the flash that Jones exhibited.
Let’s hope he can produce so the Steelers can focus elsewhere for depth.