On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Steelers claimed veteran return man Jacoby Jones off waivers from the San Diego Chargers with the hopes that he would provide the team a much-needed shot in the arm that phase of their game. While Jones did return both kickoffs and punts in his debut for the Steelers in their Sunday win over the Oakland Raiders, he failed to provide any kind of splash whatsoever.
Against the Raiders, Jones returned four kickoffs for 83 yards with a long of 24. Three of those four returns resulted in the Steelers offense starting inside their own 20-yard-line with one of those only being brought back to their own 12.
As far as Jones’s two punt returns in the game, the first one that he caught at the Steelers 44-yard-line resulted in a 3-yard loss. His second punt return opportunity yielded all of 5 yards.
Jones, however, was given a few more chances to return punts in the game but failed to catch any of them. The first opportunity included him choosing to fake like he was going to catch the football at the Steelers 8-yard-line. However, after the football was allowed to hit the ground at the 6, the Raiders coverage team was able to down it at the 2. Late in the third quarter, Jones again let a punt hit inside the Steelers 10-yard-line and the Raiders downed that one at the 9.
In the fourth quarter, the Raiders punted for a seventh and final time and this time wide receiver Antonio Brown replaced Jones deep. Brown, however, proceeded to fumble the football immediately after he was hit at the Steelers 39-yard-line and Oakland recovered it.
It’s yet to be seen if Jones will continue to return punts for the Steelers moving forward. Even though he failed to practice with the team after being claimed off waivers, it’s doubtful that it would’ve helped much of any in either parts of their return game had he gotten in just the one session prior to Sunday’s game.
Moving forward, the Steelers need to find a way to get better starting field position for their offense via returns, but based on what we’ve seen so far out of the blocking on those two units, it’s doubtful that even the great Devin Hester would provide the team much of a shot in the arm in that phase of their game, let alone a tiny prick.
To be continued…