The Pittsburgh Steelers claimed veteran return man Jacoby Jones off waivers from the San Diego Chargers on Thursday and waived former third-round draft pick Dri Archer in order to make room for him on the roster. During his Saturday pregame interview with Bob Labriola, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that the move shouldn’t be considered a slight to Archer, who had served as the team’s primary kickoff returner during his one and a half seasons in Pittsburgh.
“It really wasn’t about Dri Archer. It was about the opportunity to acquire a guy with the pedigree of Jacoby Jones,” said Tomlin. “He has been in the league since 2008, and he has nine kick returns for touchdowns – four on punts and five on kickoffs. He has done it on big stages. He went 108 (yards for a touchdown) in the Super Bowl. Anytime you have an opportunity to add a guy like that to your group, a guy you have knowledge of and believe would be a good fit, you do it.”
Despite his success over the years as a return man, Jones brings a questionable recent resume with him to the Steelers. In fact, his 21.4 kickoff return average so far this season is lower than what Archer had posted during his 14 returns this season.
Jones wasn’t able to practice with the Steelers on Friday, but Tomlin doesn’t seem too concerned about him being able to get himself quickly familiar with the team’s return schemes. Labriola even asked the head coach about the expected time frame for that to happen in.
“A guy like him who has been doing it since 2008 – 24 hours,” said Tomlin.
Jones and Tomlin will forever be linked to each other thanks to the latter seemingly getting in the way of the former down the left sideline during a late kickoff return in the 2011 Thanksgiving night game against the Baltimore Ravens. Needless to say, the two have already talked quite a bit about that one play since it happened and expect to have to talk about it even more down the road.
“Man, we’ve chatted about it a lot over the last two-to-three years,” Tomlin told Labriola. “It’s pretty good entertainment for us. I imagine we’re going to have some fun days ahead when he and I are asked about it.”
Even though Jones played for the Ravens for three seasons, Tomlin believes he’ll fit right in with the rest of the Steelers players in the team’s locker room because he views his newest addition as a competitor above everything else.
“I’m not concerned about it from the perspective of Jacoby Jones,” said Tomlin. “This guy has been on three teams, and we are his fourth team. The Ravens were just one team he was on. He was drafted by the Houston Texans and played the majority of his career down there. He really just played two or three years in Baltimore. I doubt that when his career is over he would identify himself as a Raven other than the fact he won a Super Bowl there.”
Tomlin and the rest of the origination are of course hoping that Jones will win a second Super Bowl with the Steelers this year and he’s expected to make his debut Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, a team that he has had success against in the past while returning kickoffs.
As for Archer, he has since cleared waivers and we’ll have to wait and see if another team gives him a chance later on in the season.