If there’s anything more tailor-made for fan consumption than an underdog story, it’s an underdog comeback story. Perhaps second-year outside linebacker Jamir Jones has an opportunity to write one now that he is back with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
A 2020 college free agent out of Notre Dame, Jones was initially signed by the Houston Texans, but waived on June 28. The Steelers initially signed him on April 7, 2021 after seeing him work out as an alumnus at Notre Dame’s Pro Day. He impressed throughout the offseason and made the 53-man roster, playing in the first couple of games before getting waived in favor of Derrek Tuszka.
“Just numbers reasons. That’s all I got from it, pretty much”, Jones told reporters yesterday, via, the Steelers’ social media channels, when asked what he was told at the time when the Steelers waived him, adding when prompted that that decision was fuel for him.
“Oh, definitely. Every time you get released it’s like a slap in the face. You’ve got to use it to get better, look at yourself in the mirror and see what flaws you have and attack those, and that’s what I did every single day”.
In spite of the fact that he was waived, he was certainly not unwanted. Indeed, from April 2021 on, he has been waived three times, but has been claimed every time, and thus has never been unemployed in that span. He was originally claimed by the Los Angeles Rams, for whom he played in 10 games, logging over 200 special teams snaps and 51 defensive snaps.
The Rams, however, also waived him late in the season, subsequently claimed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, dressing for one game at the end of the year and logging 25 defensive snaps and 15 special teams snaps. In all, he played 112 defensive snaps as a rookie and 240 special teams snaps across three different organizations.
But the Jaguars, too, waived him again with the final roster cuts. The Steelers put in a claim on him to get him back—one wonders if they also put a claim on him when the Rams released him, but the Jaguars obviously had the higher claim priority.
Jones told reporters that the defense came back to him quickly after he spent the time from April through September of 2021 training in it, and he had the opportunity to get on the field on Sunday, logging 18 defensive snaps and another 22 on special teams.
With T.J. Watt expected to miss at least a month or so, barring a significant signing or trade, Jones and Malik Reed will be called upon now to share the load at the left outside linebacker position. As a personal note, I thought that Jones played better than Reed during the overtime period, with the latter ending up on the ground too often.