It doesn’t seem likely that Jarvis Jones will be able to silence his critics until he starts racking up the sacks. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2013 first-round draft pick got off to a good start in the opening preseason game by recording a sack, but he, like most of the team, suffered a poor showing in the third game. Jones sat out the second game with a groin injury.
So it was important for Jones to show well in the preseason finale, which he did, particularly working against the run, which is something that he did quite well in stretches during his rookie season.
In all, Jones had a successful day working against Carolina Panthers left tackle Byron Bell, in both the running and passing games. He was able to get past the lineman a few times to generate pressure on Derek Anderson, as on this occasion.
On the Panthers’ opening drive, they had just converted a fourth and one attempt. On the next play, both Jones and Brett Keisel put pressure on the quarterback to force an incompletion. Jones used his inside arm well by knocking Bell’s right arm to the side and swimming his right shoulder over the left tackle to get into the backfield.
He slammed into the running back, but in the process helped filter Anderson into Keisel’s path while preventing him from being able to get off a throw.
After the defense stopped the rushing attack after a gain of one yard on second down, the Steelers sent the inside linebackers on a double A Gap blitz, helping to expose the right side of the defense to a screen, which is what the Panthers were planning on. Jones had the best shot at making a play here on third and nine, but the angle was too sharp for him and he couldn’t get to the receiver.
He responded on the next play by getting another good rush on the quarterback, beating Bell once again and slamming into the running back, bouncing him a few yards further into the backfield. He and others helped put the pressure on Anderson to rush the pass, which was hung for Lawrence Timmons to have a chance to intercept.
Jones had his finest individual play of the night on the Panthers’ second drive when he made a run stop on third and one to force three-and-out. The Panthers tried to block down on him with a tight end in addition to pulling the right guard, but Jones cut in between them, grabbed on to the back, and pulled him down for a loss of one.
As any good outside linebacker should, Jones fared well against tight ends during this game. With five minutes gone in the second quarter, the Panthers tried to block Jones with Ed Dickson, and it didn’t quite work out as they’d envisioned. Jones simply overpowered the tight end, jolting him back and then releasing to grab hold of the running back, dragging him down by the foot for no gain.