2014 certainly didn’t go as planned for Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones as the former first-round draft pick out of Georgia missed nine games due to a broken wrist that he suffered midway through the third game of the season. Even though he failed to bounce back thoroughly from that injury last season, recently retired Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor said Tuesday during his weekly Trib Live radio show that he was impressed with what Jones did show last season on defense prior to him going down injured.
“The thing about Jarvis is, Jarvis got it. He’s just got to stay healthy,” said Taylor, who will be a coaching intern this year during the team’s OTA practices. “Before Jarvis got hurt in that Carolina game, he was well on his way to having one of the best years out of our linebacker group, but he got hurt and that set him back.”
Jones, who has been busy training with several of the other Steelers linebackers out in Arizona this offseason, did manage to register two sacks in those first three games last season prior to him going down injured. When he returned from his injury, however, he had lost his starting right outside linebacker job to veteran James Harrison and as result only played 85 more snaps on defense once he returned from the injured reserve list in Week 14.
The knock on Jones ever since he was drafted has been centered around his overall strength and Steelers outside linebackers coach Joey Porter said during the 2015 NFL Draft that his young pupil has worked on that this offseason among other things and that’s he encouraged with his progress.
“He’s getting stronger. He’s doing some things that he knows he needs to do to get better for this year,” said Porter of Jones. “He’s not naïve to know what he’s done so far. It doesn’t meet his standards and he knows there’s a lot more in there.”
Like Taylor, Porter prefers to focus on what Jones accomplished last season prior to him getting injured as opposed to how he played upon his return to action later in the year.
“I thought Jarvis was playing good last year until he got hurt,” Porter said a few weeks ago. “So it doesn’t bother me on how it ended last year with Jarvis. I still think he is one of the better linebackers in the league and he will be that. It just hasn’t happened yet.”
As for the always optimistic Taylor, he believes that 2015 will be the year that it does happen for Jones.
“I think Jarvis is going to have one of the best seasons out of the linebacker group,” said Taylor.
The Steelers certainly need Jones to start living up to the expectations that are placed on him being as he is a former first-round draft pick and that will include him hopefully hitting double-digit sacks in his third season. Those are some lofty goals, however, as there’s only been eight different Steelers linebackers that have accomplished that feat since the stat become an official one in 1982. In fact, the last time that a Steelers linebacker registered 10 or more sacks in single-season was in 2010 when both Harrison and former Steeler LaMarr Woodley both accomplished the feat.