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Thread: Jarvis Jones: 'I brought it' in Backs on 'Backers drill

  1. #1
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    Jarvis Jones: 'I brought it' in Backs on 'Backers drill

    If you think the Pittsburgh Steelers couldn't wait to put on full pads Monday, their fans and media members who cover the team were just as excited because the training camp high-point known as "Backs-on-Backers" would finally be part of the action at Saint Vincent College.

    Backs-on-Backers is a form of the old "Oklahoma" drill where linebackers blitz a "quarterback" (generally a ball-boy who appears to be scared to death), and running backs, fullbacks and tight ends have to pick up the blitz. The linebackers clearly have an advantage, because they get a running start at the blocker, but Coach Mike Tomlin "leveled the playing field" Monday by announcing who the blitzer would be instead of having two guys ready to go.

    That didn't stop No. 1 pick Jarvis Jones from shining. By my count, he only lost one opportunity against Le'Veon Bell, got the better of Bell a couple times and won two other battles. Jones displayed speed, athleticism and strength. Some believed that size would be an issue for the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Jones, who does not appear to be that big.

    "Coach already told me that he wanted to see what I could do when we got the pads on, and I was ready for it." Jones said. "I brought it. I gave some and took some, too. (But) we were trying to toughen up our running backs and give them the best looks that we can."

    Jones went with his No. 1 blitz move more often than not.

    "You know, I'm going to do down the middle and try to light 'em up," Jones said. "But, at the same time, you've always got to have a counter to keep my legs out of it."

    Bell had a decent day, overall, and it didn't appear that blocking and picking up blitzers would be an issue for him if he has to do a lot of that this season. Bell is listed at 6-1, 244 pounds, and he is solid. He also looked good running the ball, especially behind the No. 1 line when he was the featured back.

    "I know I still have a lot of technique work to do, but I'm working at it, and I think I'm growing as a player," Bell said. "I feel like I was pretty comfortable, especially in full pads. ... I was able to compete, and I feel like I held my own.

    Bell's focus is on improvement.

    "I've been going with the ones (first team) a lot. We all rotate in different situations on different days, but I wasn't surprised that I got with them so often, especially at the end in the final period. I just want to keep getting more reps and getting better."

    Veteran linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley got a few chances to blitz, but the coaches know what they can do. So, others got opportunities, and several took advantage. Marshall McFadden (6-1, 233), a first-year player from South Carolina State, was on and off the Steelers active roster and practice squad last season -- after not securing a spot with an NFL team in 2011 -- and he should make an impact at least on special teams this year.

    McFadden's opening collision with Baron Batch was spectacular, with Batch hold strong, but the young running back was faked out quite often after that and needs to work on his technique a little more. McFadden could be a player to watch, at least from his early efforts in camp, but he has more work to do in the regular defense. Special teams could be a way for both to make the team.

    Smallish running backs Curtis McNeal and LaRod Stephens-Howling had a tough time, although they displayed toughness and strength. It's just that their lack of size made it difficult with the backers getting a flying start. Isaac Redman and Will Johnson were solid, while Jonathan Dwyer struggled in a couple chances.

    Along with McFadden, Alan Baxter, Chris Carter and Stevenson Sylvester looked pretty good. Tight end David Paulson held his own, while Peter Tuitupou struggled during his opportunities.

    Tomlin said that the status remained the same for cornerbacks Cortez Allen (knee) and DeMarcus Van Dyke (hamstring), but the two have a chance to return Wednesday afternoon after Tuesday's off day.

    2017 Mock

    1. T.J Watt, OLB/DE, Wisconsin - will be a huge mistake if available and we pass

    2. Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson

    3. Josh Jones, S, N.C. State

    3. Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland

    4. Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic

    5. Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M

    6. Barry Sanders, RB, Oklahoma State (How can you go wrong with that name, however the sample size is so small that his dad may be better even in his 50's)

    7. Alec Torgersen, QB, Pennsylvania

  2. #2
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    I'm nowhere close to NFL Caliber anything. Maybe NFL Caliber historian but I cannot imagine coming in as a rookie, going into the backs on backers drill and lining up against Timmons or Woodley the first week of practice. After I pee myself, they'd run me over.
    go to [URL][/URL] to donate a free mammogram a day to women without health insurance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteelCrazy View Post
    That didn't stop No. 1 pick Jarvis Jones from shining. By my count, he only lost one opportunity against Le'Veon Bell, got the better of Bell a couple times and won two other battles. Jones displayed speed, athleticism and strength. Some believed that size would be an issue for the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Jones, who does not appear to be that big.
    It is still baffling then, to know how poorly he performed during his Pro Day. I still don't get it.

    He's obviously not that slow, not that unexplosive (i.e. worst vert among LBs).

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    Didn't he have an injured hamstring at his pro-day?

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    Also, I think there's something to be said about actually being an outstanding FOOTBALL player as opposed to just a great athlete.

    Jones was a dominant defensive player and THE dominant pass rusher in the absolute best conference in college football. I put waaaaay more stock in actual game film than I do combine #'s.

  6. #6
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    Give me a guy who produces on the field opposed to the guy with "upside" anytime. That's why I loved the Jones pick.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by steelsnis View Post
    Didn't he have an injured hamstring at his pro-day?
    "Sandbagging" so he would drop to the Steelers!

  8. #8

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    Speaking of Jarvis Jones, the Steelers arenít going to start him at right outside linebacker, at least not now, until he is able to eliminate most of his mental mistakes. The Steelers do not think it is fair to other members of the defense if one player, even a No. 1 draft pick, does not know his assignments or makes mental mistakes on the field. This is not to suggest that Jones does not know what he is doing. Rather, they will proceed cautiously until he has a better understanding of what to do. But, in one week, the coaches have seen in Jones everything they saw from him in college, including bull-rushing the quarterback.


  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by steelsnis View Post
    Also, I think there's something to be said about actually being an outstanding FOOTBALL player as opposed to just a great athlete.

    Jones was a dominant defensive player and THE dominant pass rusher in the absolute best conference in college football. I put waaaaay more stock in actual game film than I do combine #'s.
    NO question... as do I! But there is a difference, running say a 4.7 (which would still be slow for a player of his seeming play speed) and running a ridiculous time like 4.9.

    The 4.7 time would be quickly dismissed, as you say, for a guy who plays lights-out when it is time. But 4.9 is molasses slow, and it becomes impossible to ignore.

  10. #10

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    Is Jarvis Jones the next in line of great Steelers linebackers?

    The Steelers are hoping Jarvis Jones (top), the No. 17 overall pick, can fill the void left by James Harrison.
    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    LATROBE, Pa. -- History says the Pittsburgh Steelers know outside linebackers. How to find them. How to develop them. How to turn them loose to wreak havoc on the rest of the NFL.

    It's not just a position of impact in Pittsburgh's defense. It's a legacy. A marquee-level launching pad that has helped cement the play-making reputations for such Steel City luminaries as Jack Ham, Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Jason Gildon, Joey Porter and most recently, James Harrison.

    So it's quite the position to be in as an NFL rookie, if your name is Jarvis Jones, and you're the highest drafted outside linebacker in Steelers team history (No. 17 overall). No pressure there, kid, just go out there and earn your place in the pantheon. And right away would be nice.

    "Oh, yeah, outside linebacker is huge here,'' said seventh-year veteran Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, between practices at Pittsburgh's training camp at scenic St. Vincent College. "You can make a name for yourself for a long time if you can get it done. And he [Jones] has a chance.''

    Jones, the disruptive force who churned out a bevy of big plays at Georgia the past two seasons (24 sacks overall, a nation-leading 24.5 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles in 2012), has a chance all right. He has a chance, and some would say a great chance, to become the first Pittsburgh rookie to start at outside linebacker since Ham began his Hall of Fame career by doing so in 1971. It's not the Steelers way to anoint any rookie, so Jones still has to score a clear-cut victory in his preseason battle with fourth-year veteran James Worilds for the right to replace the departed and well-decorated Harrison at right outside linebacker.

    But keep in mind the reality of Jones' lofty draft slot, and the fact the Steelers have shown no apparent interest in talking contract extension with Worilds, who is entering the final season of his rookie deal. Pittsburgh has been patient with Worilds, a second-round pick out of Virginia Tech in 2010, but he has totaled just 10 sacks in his three NFL seasons, and has yet to prove he can cut it full-time at rush linebacker, the glamor spot of the Dick LeBeau-coached Steelers defense.

    Jones, meanwhile, is off to an impressive start in his first Steelers camp, showing good instincts and feel for the game, doing a fair J.J. Watt impersonation with several batted down passes, and flashing the speed, athleticism and strength it takes to collapse the pocket and stand out in pass rush drills. The day I visited Steelers camp, Jones was particularly impressive in the "backs on backers'' drill, where linebackers take turns blitzing a quarterback, while a stationary running back or tight end is tasked with blitz pickup duties. Jones won almost all of his battles, earning some notice from both teammates and coaches.

    "He's very explosive and has a nice motor on him,'' Timmons said. "The guy has it all. He's a very sharp kid, and if he can pull it together, I'm sure he's going to be where he wants to be.''

    Initially, when the draft scouting season opened, the Steelers never dreamed Jones would be where he is now, wearing black and gold and working to earn a spot in their lineup. Pittsburgh didn't even burn one of its 60 scouting combine interviews on Jones, figuring it would be a waste of time since Jones would come off the board long before No. 17.

    But a diagnosis of cervical spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal column in his neck) that Jones received in 2009 while playing for Southern Cal -- he later transferred to Georgia after USC would not allow him to play -- re-emerged as an issue this spring and impacted his draft stock. When Jones also posted a relatively "slow'' 40 time at his pro day (in the 4.9 range), the two-time All-America pick was suddenly in play in the teens of the first round.

    The Steelers were convinced they had themselves a steal. Unable to get Harrison, 35, to agree to a reduced salary cap figure after an injury-shortened season in 2012, Pittsburgh released its top pass rusher and went shopping for a younger, healthier and cheaper replacement. Of the multiple issues that combined to render the Steelers an 8-8 non-playoff qualifier last season, the mediocre pass rush (just 37 sacks, tied for 15th most overall) was fairly glaring. As recently as 2010, the Steelers led the league with 48 sacks. So Pittsburgh clearly craves the style of mayhem Jones was known for creating in college.

    "There's nothing better that I could imagine than getting this opportunity to play here, and be coached by [Dick] LeBeau, who's in the Hall of Fame and knows what it takes to be great,'' Jones said. "He knows what a great outside linebacker looks like, and he's coached some of the best. Being a rookie, I'm just sitting back, asking a lot of questions and trying to absorb it all and add to my game.''

    The Steelers say the best thing about Jones' game is that it might be ready-made for the NFL. Pittsburgh has had a habit over the years of drafting undersized 4-3 defensive ends and transforming them into outside linebackers in the 3-4 formation it has so successfully fielded since 1982. But those transitions always took time, as the Steelers drained the players' defensive end instincts and taught them how to think, move and react in space, as outside linebackers must do.

    No such learning curve is needed for Jones, who played 3-4 rush linebacker at Georgia. His coverage responsibilities for the Bulldogs weren't extensive, but dropping isn't a new skill he must master, and that key distinction should enable him to start making an impact early.

    "The difference between him and some others that we've acquired since I've been here is we're asking him to do a job that we saw him do in college,'' Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. "He's not a convert, and I think there's an advantage from that perspective. There's going to be more young men you can say that about moving forward, because of the evolution of the 3-4 defense in college football.

    "This is really the first one that I've personally had a chance to deal with, and you see the background being an advantage for him, having played on two feet in college. Just in him having an outside linebacker's perspective on the game, as opposed to playing with your hand in the dirt.''

    Jones, too, believes being a "pure'' linebacker in college will hasten his transition to the Steelers' starting lineup, but after having doubt cast on his football career by the stenosis diagnosis, he is taking nothing for granted. He knows Worilds, who is only 25 and playing for his next contract somewhere, will not just step aside and make way for his ascent.

    "I've got to earn this, and that's how it's supposed to be, absolutely,'' Jones said. "It doesn't matter where you were drafted to a certain extent. I'm just working and waiting for my opportunity, taking the humble approach, and be ready when my opportunity comes.

    "Our linebackers as a whole, we're going to get after it. We've got playmakers and the linebackers always lead this defense. Over the history of this Steelers defense, it's been near the top for many years. I know the names. It's an honor, truly an honor to play this position for this team and I want to take on that challenge.''

    Rest assured, the challenge of being the Steelers' Next Big Thing at outside linebacker will be issued to Jones. If not at the very start of his rookie season, then soon enough. In Pittsburgh, where the past is so revered and ever-present, Steelers fans are eager to embrace Jones as the future.



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