With the loss of Bud Dupree for half the season, the pressure has moved to the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ outside linebackers to step up.
You can just add that to the pressure Jarvis Jones was already carrying around. A former first round pick who has never lived up to those expectations, Keith Butler noted how big of a year this is for him in his Coordinator’s Corner interview with Missi Matthews on Steelers Nation Radio.
“I’m confident that this is probably going to be a good year for Jarvis. It needs to be a good year for him. It’s his contract year, he’s got pressure on him to try and do well.”
The team declined his 5th year option, making him a free agent at the end of the season. It was a no-brainer decision after Jones has recorded only five sacks through three seasons.
But Butler says there have been plenty of obstacles for Jones to deal with.
“He’s capable of being a good football player if he can stay healthy. The problem with Jarvis his whole career up until now is that he’s had little nicks and bumps that have kept him from playing. He needs to show what he’s capable of doing.”
Jones’ most notable injury is a right wrist/elbow injury suffered in 2014, limiting him to just seven games. He’s played the last two seasons. It seems this season, he’s ditched it and played with a heavy wrap.
Butler is expecting a much improved season as a pass rusher and there have been some signs of improvement. Jones had 1.5 pressures in the third preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, getting the best of an, albeit injured, Terron Armstead.
Jones will never be a ten sack player but getting five or six sacks out of him would be huge. As we pointed out in the offseason, the key for him might be staying on his feet and being able to use effort and chase to create pressure and sacks. That’ll be key for a unit that underwhelmed as pass rushers in 2015.