Jamir Jones is already a fan favorite, and perhaps the one player on the roster bubble during training camp that Pittsburgh Steelers faithful were most hoping would end up on the 53. They had their wish granted, as he was indeed kept as one of only four outside linebackers, but he understands who close a call it must have been—and especially that he must continue to win the job he now has.
“I’m not gonna lie and say you don’t get those thoughts, but you’ve definitely got to suppress them the best you can and just come every day and prove what you should be here”, he told reporters late last week when he was asked about considering the ‘numbers game’ at the outside linebacker position. “That’s the mentality you have, just prove why you can’t get rid of me. That’s the mentality I take every day”.
The Steelers had six outside linebackers in training camp who seemed likely to have a shot at making the roster. T.J. Watt is obviously at the top of the list, followed by second-year Alex Highsmith and veteran addition Melvin Ingram as complete locks. Nobody else’s job was secure, but they had contenders.
Specifically, they had veteran journeyman Cassius Marsh, who spent all season running as the number two or three at the position while Watt was not participating, and rookie sixth-round pick Quincy Roche, who did a fine job for himself, but not quite as much as Jones did.
A first-year player out of Notre Dame originally signed by the Houston Texans, Jones only spent a very short amount of time with the team last year before he was cut, telling reporters that he had just a few days of practice in training camp. He remained unsigned for the remainder of his rookie season.
And while he currently has a spot on the roster, he is not taking it for granted, looking to dedicate himself to learn everything that he can from the veterans in the room, and to giving his all on special teams, which, fortunately for himself, he enjoys doing, and does well.
“Even today, making the 53, that doesn’t mean that in two weeks I’m still gonna be here”, Jones told reporters in a sobering bit of reality. “I still have to prove each and every day that I’m worthy of this chance, and I’m worthy of being one of the 53 that get to be on the roster”.
Defensive coordinator Keith Butler, who also serves as the de facto outside linebackers coach, did tell reporters last week that “we’ll see” if the Steelers could manage to add more help at the position. While four is not an unusual number for them to carry, five is often preferred. It wouldn’t shock me if we eventually see Marsh work his way back around, potentially even after week one, at which point his full-season salary would not be guaranteed.