Did anybody on the Pittsburgh Steelers have a more individually important, valuable game last night than did first-year outside linebacker Jamir Jones? Following a six-tackle, one-sack showing, which included three tackles on special teams, the Notre Dame product may have well sewn up a roster spot for himself.
As those who have been following my 53-man roster predictions are aware, I have had him making the team since the start of the preseason. Jones has been running ahead of Quincy Roche throughout training camp, although veteran Cassius Marsh has been ahead of him, for example, when Melvin Ingram would not play.
He finishes the preseason with 13 tackles and two and a half sacks, and nine quarterback hits, which according to the NFL’s statistical database, was the most in the NFL by three this preseason. He has been a consistent presence in the pass rush, but his work in special teams—he’s logged among the most snaps in the league this preseason—is what will really make the difference.
With a top-heavy depth chart that includes T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Melvin Ingram, there isn’t a lot of room to go around. I don’t know whether or not the Steelers will carry four or five outside linebackers—I’m increasingly thinking that it will be only four—I do think, at this point, that Jones will be on the team, even if that means cutting a veteran like Marsh, which the team is not prone to do.
Who knows what will happen over the remainder of his career? Others like Tuzar Skipper, Howard Jones, and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi have not translated one exciting preseason into regular-season success. But they all got a chance, even if it took another team to give it to them in the cases of Jones and Skipper.
There isn’t much reason for Pittsburgh to be attached to Marsh, though. He was a veteran journeyman when they picked him up late last season off of the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad, and he played a couple of games for them, missing one while on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.
While he has had a fine if somewhat quiet offseason that trailed off toward the end, there is a more than reasonable chance that they could still have him available on the practice squad even if they do cut him (he also wouldn’t be subject to waivers as a vested veteran).
Head coaches preach to their players that anybody can make it if they put in the work and perform. Jamir Jones has done that this entire offseason since they signed him after working out at Notre Dame’s Pro Day. It would be sending the right message to the team if he doesn’t hear from the Turk.