The life of Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Landry Jones certainly changed last week when he became a father for the first time. While Jones probably could’ve taken a few days off to enjoy his new baby boy with his wife Whitney, he reportedly was back at practice the very next day at the urging of his significant other.
“My wife is an athlete, so she gets it, you feel you have a responsibility to show up when you’re supposed to be here,” Jones said, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. “She was great. She was understanding. She was the one who told me to go in.”
Jones’ return to practice just so happened to coincide with starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missing the Steelers final practice of the week as he and wife Ashley also welcomed another new baby to the world on Thursday. As a result, Jones reportedly received reps with the Steelers first-team offense in Roethlisberger’s absence and opportunities such as that probably don’t come along very often during the offseason.
“It wasn’t too bad, kind of reminded me of college,” Jones said, according to Jacob Klinger of Penn Live. “You don’t ever sleep in college anyways.”
Jones, who showed some improvements last season when asked to play in place of an injured Roethlisberger and last year’s No. 2 quarterback Mike Vick, is entering the final year of his rookie contract. With that improvement noted, Jones had a golden opportunity to potentially clinch the backup job for the 2016 season when he again replaced a temporarily injured Roethlisberger in last year’s Wild Card game against the Cincinatti Bengals. However, after going 2-of-5 passing for 11 yards and an interception with that playoff game on the line, Jones entered the offseason with his exact spot on the team’s depth chart in question.
For now, Jones is expected to battle veteran quarterback Bruce Gradkowski for the remainder of the offseason for the right to backup Roethlisberger in 2016. While it certainly doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton reportedly said Tuesday that Jones has shown enough to be the team’s everyday backup, according to Klinger, as his play surprised a lot of his teammates last year.
Now that Jones has another mouth to feed, you would have to think his level of urgency to establish himself as a legitimate backup has increased some while the amount of sleep he’ll get over the course of the next several months will more than likely decrease.
When reading all of these recent articles about Jones following the birth of his new son, I cant help but think about that classic scene from the movie “Rocky II” when Adrian Balboa awoke from her coma after giving birth and told Rocky to win. With that said, I’m pretty sure the exchange between Jones and his wife wasn’t that dramatic. I also doubt Randy Fichtner, the Steelers quarterback coach, was in the same room yelling, “What are we waiting for?” after Whitney told her husband to get himself to practice.