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Steelers very clear Jarvis Jones will not be handed starting job because of draft position
By SteelCityRoller on Apr 29 2013
Head coach Mike Tomlin and linebackers coach Keith Butler are very pleased with their first round pick from Georgia, but they remain adamant starting positions are not handed out in relation to a player's draft position.
Despite not appearing very competitive at points during 2012, competition is about to become the name of the game when the Pittsburgh Steelers begin organized team functions in preparation of the 2013 NFL regular season.
Since the team parted ways with legendary pass rusher James Harrison, who has since signed with the rival Cincinnati Bengals, many expected the team to address his vacated position on the right side of the defense through the draft. The moans for Georgia's Jarvis Jones were met with agreement by the Steelers front office, and the team selected him when he fell to them at the 17th spot.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, every draft pick is offered a four-year contract, except first-rounders. Players selected in the first-round have option year clauses in their contracts, thus adding to the need to hit on first round picks, not to mention the want to involve first-rounders early to get the maximum use out of their five-year deals.
However great the want, the Steelers will not simply start him as a rookie just because.
Pittsburgh Head coach Mike Tomlin:
"I think it's a daunting task for rookies to start in any system and play and perform well."
"Obviously it is difficult when you have established veteran players like we have with a lot of continuity. We are not going to close the door on him or anyone else on earning an opportunity, and that is what this is about -- people taking advantage of opportunities. So he'll be given that."
Jones will probably always play like he did at Georgia --with a chip on his shoulder because the problem with his neck has become a pain in the butt. He stared in the face of those who told him his spinal stenosis diagnosis would prevent him from materializing any serious football aspirations. The Steelers are banking on him to bring the same intensity and drive to a roster who could use a little of both; but he will earn his spot like everyone else.
Linebackers coach Keith Butler is keeping the rookie in perspective with his new teammates:
"He's been very productive. He's going to come in and compete, but he's not going to be given the position. Jason Worilds is here. He's the next guy up since James has left, and I expect Jason to be better than he ever has been."
Worilds isn't the only linebacker who has been chomping at the bit since Harrison was released.
Chris Carter had earned the primary backup role behind Harrison prior to 2012, while Worilds missed all of training camp rehabbing from injury. Carter ended up hurt himself, leaving mid-season on injured reserve. He has two seasons left on his contract, but with little dead money remaining on his deal, he could be viewed as expendable when final cuts are made.
During training camp last season, Adrian Robinson earned himself a spot on the final 53-man roster, when there wasn't much of an opening or official position competition, after being signed as an undrafted rookie camp body. He remained on the team all year, though his playing time was limited. Both the player and the team are anxious to see what kind of progress he has made in 12 months.
For now, Worilds will retain the starting role; but retaining it beyond today is his responsibility. Just because the team isn't naming Jones the starter now, doesn't mean they won't be by the time the season starts.
GIVE 'EM A CHANCE
Monday, April 29, 2013
by Mark Madden
The Steelers had a great draft. Each of their first four picks filled a hole. LB Jarvis Jones, RB Le'Veon Bell, WR Markus Wheaton, S Shamarko Thomas...it was like an assembly line of embracing reality. All solid. Every one at a position of need.
That's Step One. Here's Step Two:
GIVE THE ROOKIES A LEGIT CHANCE TO CONTRIBUTE RIGHT AWAY.
Jarvis Jones hasn't proven he can do it at the NFL level. But Jason Worilds has proven he can't. He's a bum. Better the devil you don't know. I would much rather see Jones get first shot at replacing James Harrison.
Same thing at RB. Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer are curtain-jerking, low-rent, obi-wan-jobronis. Bell is a rookie, but with pedigree. RB is the easiest transition from college to pro. You do exactly the same thing.
Bell is a wide load at 230 pounds. The Steelers love to cling to tradition. Let's cling to the BIG BACK tradition. Bell can be The Bus, Part II. The Tractor-Trailer. The SUV. Whatever. JUST PLAY HIM. He's the best back on the roster. Bell isn't just big, either. He can cut. He can catch.
Give the rookies a shot. Others have shown they can't. Let the rookies show they can. After 8-8, and heavy off-season losses, what other logical choice is there?
I don't agree that Worilds has shown he can't play. He's shown he can't stay healthy. If he can this year, you have to see what you have from your investment.
Rookie Jarvis Jones could become a factor on both sides of Steelers defense
By SteelCityRoller on May 1 2013
Not even a week into his new job, the Steelers first-round draft choice could not only become the new face of the steel curtain's right side; but he could in turn cause a new face to takeover the left side, as well.
All eyes were already on Jason Worilds when the Pittsburgh Steelers released veteran outside linebacker James Harrison, then the team drafted Jarvis Jones.
The coaches are sticking with Worilds as the right side starter through the beginning of camp, mainly because of his tenure with the team; although he does possess skills worth 2nd round consideration in the 2010 NFL Draft. Obviously, Jones' first-round selection defines the Steelers want for him to be a part of the franchise's future; but by similar thinking, they would still want the same for Worilds.
Worilds is playing the final season of his original rookie contract. He will be an unrestricted free-agent following the season. Not only does he have to beat out Jones, but Worilds will also have to beat out fellow veterans Chris Carter and Adrian Robinson. If he can beat out all of his competition and maintain his starting position beyond opening day, would the selection of Jones have been a waste? If Worilds holds his job all year, would the team really let him walk next year just to validate their selection of Jones?
Either way, Worilds is guaranteed to bring his best effort to training camp, because he has so much to lose with an inadequate performance; but he may not have to win his positional battle outright to earn a second contract with the team who drafted him.
This season is definitely an audition for Worilds. The Steelers have given him all the time they can afford, and they need to know what they have in him. He has shown flashes of starting material at times, but injuries and inconsistency have clouded any projections of his future. The team knows what they think he can be, but they need to see it to believe it. However, they may not just be looking at his ability to play the right side.
While strong arguments have been made suggesting Worilds become an interior linebacker project, at this point of the game being his final obligatory season it is too late to attempt such a major mindset adjustment and honestly expect serious results; but Worilds has played another linebacker position in the past, and proved to be as capable there as he is at his projected 2013 roster spot -- the left side where LaMarr Woodley resides.
The Steelers already know what they have in Woodley. When he's on top of his game, he's one of the best in the league at his position. Unfortunately, he hasn't been as sharp over the past two seasons. Unnamed team sources were quoted criticizing Woodley's conditioning and frequent injuries. Whether the sources of those statements were valid or not, the weight they carried through the media proves they at least matched the consensus of those who followed the team regularly.
Woodley had reportedly been hard at work to be in his best shape for the season, although he denies his efforts have anything to do with those critical quotes. Jonathan Dwyer faced similar rebuke from head coach Mike Tomlin directly, in front of his teammates, following the end of the 2011 season. Dwyer responded by showing up in much better shape, and won the starting job by season's end. Perhaps the comments about Woodley were leaked to invoke the same type of inspiration. Regardless, under this year's theme of positional battles, everyone has to prove to the team they are necessary for the future.
Worilds may lose out to Jones by the beginning of the regular season, or he may not play strong enough to discourage the team from going with Jones in 2014 anyway. However, should Woodley have another disappointing season or spend a majority of it in the trainer's room, Worilds may still have the opportunity to earn a contract as a 2014 replacement for Woodley.
Woodley's contract is still quite gaudy, made worse this off-season when the team was forced to restructure his contract to clear cap space. Simply by doing so would imply the team expected him to be around. To release Woodley would hurt from a salary cap standpoint, but the team could possibly use him as trade bait next year. Trading him would be the most likely option, should the team decide to go with Worilds and Jones as their future starters.
Ideally, Woodley will play like a younger version of himself, and whoever plays across from him will play like Steelers linebackers are expected to.
It will be interesting to see how Worilds situation plays out, thanks to the drafting of Jones.
Not true. Worilds has proven to be much better on the left side than the right.but Worilds has played another linebacker position in the past, and proved to be as capable there as he is at his projected 2013 roster spot -- the left side where LaMarr Woodley resides.
Unlikely scenario. If he is so bad that the Steelers are looking to get rid of him then nobody will want to be on the hook for his $8M salary next year. Remember, the cap hit to the Steelers is the same if they release him or trade him. If the league sees that they want to get rid of him then they will wait and nab him for less than half of his salary.but the team could possibly use him as trade bait next year. Trading him would be the most likely option, should the team decide to go with Worilds and Jones as their future starters.