The Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping that return man Jacoby Jones will have a better second showing Sunday against the Cleveland Browns after failing to do much of anything in his four kickoff and two punt returns last Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
On Thursday, Steelers special teams coach Danny Smith was asked in an interview on Steelers Nation Radio to talk a little about what happened last week with Jones, who the Steelers claimed off waivers from the San Diego Chargers.
“Literally, he didn’t practice with us last week,” said Smith. “He got here Friday after practice, actually, and it’s a lost carry the first time out with a new guy no matter who he is or what his names is, or what his credentials come with. When you put a guy out there in that environment – our first time in really working it was in pregame.
“So that’s not an excuse, they’re pros and they’re expected to get that done. But I think you’ll see it get better as it goes, him knowing us and us knowing him, and good situations and things like that that we can help him each other with.”
With Jones now on board, Smith was asked if he has to tailor the Steelers blocking and return schemes to fit him.
“I think a good coach adapts to its personnel, to be honest with you and I think that’s the challenge in coaching,” said Smith. “I don’t do the things I do because I like them, because I’m not out there. I try to put together the things that we can do and put our players in good situations.
“So I wouldn’t say it’s a change, there are adjustments made along the way to take advantage of his skill set, particularly things he’s good at. I know him well because we played him. Obviously when he was in our division and obviously in that Monday night a few weeks ago, so I feel like I know him well and what I think he’s good at. And so it’s an adjustment as opposed to just an out an out change.”
Last Sunday, Jones averaged 20.8 yards on his four kickoff returns and just 2 yards on the two punts he fielded and returned.
On Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he would “spin the dial” this week to decide whether or not Jones or Antonio Brown will return punts this week. Jones is expected to be the team’s kickoff returner Sunday against the Browns.