Through two preseason games and a couple of weeks of training camp at Heinz Field, first-year outside linebacker Jamir Jones remains the talk of training camp.
Jones, undrafted out of Notre Dame following a move from linebacker to defensive end, failed to stick with the Houston Texans in 2020 and found himself as a street free agent. Thanks to some ties to the Steelers with his older brother Jarron Jones, Jamir landed an opportunity with the black and gold and hasn’t looked back since.
Against the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, Jones has looked like the team’s best defender in preseason action. Some can turn up their noses at that, but Jones is controlling what he can control: Dominating the man in front of him and really making an impression on the coaching staff with sacks in back-to-back games.
Though he’s still relatively new to the position, Jones — who spoke to the media Saturday following practice at Heinz Field — said he’s picking the brains of veteran pass rushers like T.J. Watt and Melvin Ingram to learn all that he can about the nuances of rushing the passer, tapping into their “infinite knowledge.”
“You know, it’s, it’s great,” Jones told media members Saturday at Heinz Field. “You know what I’m saying? T.J. Watt — he’s definitely one of the best pass rushers there is in the game right now. He has infinite knowledge of, of just like pre snap, being able to know what’s coming and being able to look at the tackle’s stance and looking at where the back is and where the quarterback is, and just knowing what’s coming each and every play, just being able to play faster. You know what I’m saying? Cause this game, it’s the speed. It’s always the speed that changes from level to level and being able to know where you’re going and know what you’re doing faster. It helps out a lot.”
So far, that mentorship has helped out in a big way for Jones, who is playing fast, loose and sound football off the edge for the Steelers as he pushes for a 53-man role. Jones has played with consistency through two games and has shown the ability to chase the football in pursuit, which has really stood out on tape.
We’ll see how he closes the preseason in the final two games against the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers, but right now it feels like Jones is in the driver’s seat for the No. 4 OLB job as he’s playing fast and making more plays.