The Pittsburgh Steelers claimed veteran return man Jacoby Jones off waivers from the San Diego Chargers on Thursday and they’re hoping he can do one of the many things that Dri Archer couldn’t do and that’s return kickoffs.
While Jones brings old legs and a poor recent resume with him to Pittsburgh, one would think that he’ll be able to do a better job at returning kickoffs than Archer has done in the coming winter months.
Archer, sub 4.3 speed and all, never played fast for the Steelers in the kick return game and that ultimately is what led to him being released in favor of Jones on Thursday. While the blocking ahead of Archer wasn’t great at times, he needed to show more than what he did. During his brief career with the Steelers, Archer returned 23 kickoffs for 515 yards with a long of 38.
While Jones has only returned 9 kickoffs for 193 yards so far this season, it’s probably worth noting that he missed three games earlier this year with an ankle injury. His career average of 27.1 yards on kickoffs is probably the main reason the Steelers decided to take a chance on him.
It’s yet to be seen if Jones will also return punts, but I won’t be surprised if he doesn’t, at least not initially. Besides, Jones’s 9.9 yard career average on punt returns is only slightly better than that of Antonio Brown’s (9.7).
If you think that Jones will be used as a wide receiver while in Pittsburgh, that’s very unlikely to happen. In fact, he only saw the field for three offensive plays during the five games that he dressed for with the Chargers and all three of those snaps came in the Week 6 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Even though Jones played 209 offensive snaps last season with the Baltimore Ravens, he only caught 9 passes for 131 yards the entire season. In other words, his receiving days are likely behind him barring several injuries.
So, Jones has one job with the Steelers during the cold winter months and that’s provide the Pittsburgh offense better starting field position on kickoffs and maybe eventually punts. Is he worth the waiver claim? We’ll soon find out, but you can certainly understand why they made it.