Rookie QB Jones gets first work as a Steeler
By Alan Robinson
Published: Friday, May 3, 2013
Quarterback Landry Jones, the Steelers' fourth-round pick, works out at rookie camp Friday, May 3, 2013 on the South Side.
Landry Jones reported to the Steelers two days ago and immediately was handed a playbook the size of the one he had at Oklahoma.
That was only the beginning for the first quarterback drafted by the Steelers in anything other than a late round since 2004.
On Friday morning, Jones was running plays from that book — and, yes, the Steelers still have an old-fashioned printed playbook — or at least he was attempting to do that during the first day of the Steelers' three-day rookie minicamp.
A lot of passes fluttered. Some were offline. Others weren't thrown with the velocity of someone who was projected to be a first-round draft pick slightly more than a year ago.
Afterward, he said many of the same things that Ben Roethlisberger said after his rookie camp in May 2004. The game is a lot faster. There is a whole lot to remember. And the terminology is completely different.
“I had a lot of fun, but obviously there's still a lot of learning for me,” said Jones, who wore a gold No. 3 practice jersey on his first day of professional football. “Just putting in the whole offense today and getting into it. It's always different when you have something new you're not familiar with.”
At least there's one friendly face in wide receiver Justin Brown, the former Penn State player who transferred to Oklahoma last season and became Jones' favorite target.
There was one misconception Jones wanted to clear up immediately: He did not grow up in New Mexico as a Cowboys fan, something he knows wouldn't go over well in Pittsburgh. His dad was a Cowboys fan, hence the name Landry — as in Tom Landry, the former Dallas coach.
Jones, a fourth-round pick, was brought in partly because, as quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner said, the Steelers wanted to “freshen up the room, if you will” with younger quarterbacks.
They went with Charlie Batch, 38, and Byron Leftwich, 33, last season; now the backups are Bruce Gradkowski, 30, and Jones, 24. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Jones was the best of the Steelers' nine draft picks and could be the surprise quarterback in the Class of 2013.
“Landry is in a great spot to be here right now,” Fichtner said.
Still, it's not as if Jones is the already-annointed heir to Roethlisberger, who will be 31 this season and would appear to have a number of seasons remaining in his career.
Rather, the Steelers saw the opportunity to bring in a polished and experienced college quarterback who will be given a lot of practice work, and it will be up to him what he does with it.
“I have no idea,” Jones said of the Steelers' plans for him. “You might want to talk to the coaches or Mr. Rooney about what they want to do with me. I'm just here to learn football. They're giving me an opportunity to come play, so I'm here just to play some football.
“It's surreal to be here.”
As anyone named Landry in Pittsburgh might feel.
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Namesake of Cowboys legend happy to be a Steeler
May 5, 2013
By Ray Fittipaldo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Kevin Jones did not fill out his son's birth certificate until the day after he left the hospital. Kevin and his wife Kellye had no boys names in mind after being told a sonogram revealed in the seventh month of Kellye's pregnancy that they were expecting their third girl.
It wasn't until the couple returned to their home in Artesia, N.M., that they settled on the name Landry, a nod to Kevin's boyhood idol, Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys.
Kevin rooted hard for the Cowboys in Super Bowls X and XIII against the Steelers and celebrated when the Cowboys exacted some revenge in Super Bowl XXX.
So, when Landry was chosen by the Steelers last weekend in the fourth round of the NFL draft, one might have assumed Kevin had mixed feelings.
"Greatest organization in football," Kevin said of his reaction when he found out the Steelers drafted his son.
Chances are Kevin would have said the same thing had any of the other 31 teams in the NFL drafted Landry, but he long ago gave up rooting for the Cowboys, and it has nothing to do with Dallas not winning a Super Bowl in the past 17 years.
Kevin broke allegiances from the Cowboys when Landry started to get recruited by major colleges because he thought some day Landry would be playing in the NFL and he'd have to stop cheeringfor them anyway.
Talk about planning for the future.
Last Saturday, Kevin became a fan of the Steelers when he finally heard Landry's name called near the end of the fourth round.
Landry hoped to go much higher. As the successor to former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford at Oklahoma, Jones started 48 consecutive games for the Sooners and broke most of the school's major passing records. He threw for almost 17,000 yards and 123 touchdowns for the Sooners and, at one point, was pegged to follow Bradford as a first-round pick.
Now Jones will be in the position of learning as a reserve without much room for advancement in the short term because he will be behind franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Jones, once viewed as the potential No. 1 overall pick as a sophomore at Oklahoma, was called the "biggest enigma" of the 2013 quarterback class by NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks.
Jones was downgraded by NFL scouts the past two seasons for inconsistencies in his decision-making and his inability to come through in big games. This weekend, he took the first step toward proving his doubters wrong at Steelers rookie camp.
"It's a big opportunity for me being here period," said Jones, who is 6 feet 3 and weighs 221 pounds.
"It's a lifetime dream, to be a professional football player. Now you're out here learning and doing this stuff."
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin gave his first impressions of Jones Saturday afternoon after a morning practice.
"It's a work in progress," Tomlin said. "I like his attitude. He's a good communicator. He's a sharp guy in the classroom, but, like all the others, he's at the very beginning of his journey."
It has been a whirlwind weekend for Jones, who is digesting a brand-new playbook and playing with a new cast of teammates, excluding former Sooners receiver Justin Brown, a sixth-round pick who is hoping to make the team as well.
"Terminology is different, protection is different," Jones said. "It's something you'll have to get used to.
"You're just trying to remember the plays, trying to remember where people are going. You're having a lot of information thrown at you."
Barring injury, Jones will have plenty of time to learn the ropes. Roethlisberger remains in his prime and has three years remaining on his contract. Plus, the Steelers signed veteran Bruce Gradkowski to be Roethlisberger's backup this season.
Jones has exchanged text messages with Roethlisberger and would like to pick his brain more once the rest of the veteransreturn to town for organized team activities later this month.
"He's been in this offense," Jones said. "I'm going to lean on him a lot.
"Hopefully, I'll get a lot of information out of him."