Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones already had the deck stacked against him as he entered offseason training activities this week. From pundits insisting the kid is a ‘bust’ to personal insecurities, Jones revealed after OTAs on Thursday that he continues to deal with issues surrounding the dislocated wrist he had surgically repaired ten weeks ago.
“It was a serious injury,” Jones said from the South Side facilities, “and I am still rehabbing it and everything but I still have some strength and motion and mobility stuff I am working on with it.”
The Steelers have been cautiously hopeful that Jones would step into a solid starting role at right outside linebacker in place of the veteran James Harrison who re-signed with the team for another season. They were encouraged by his second-year progress in 2014 before dislocating his wrist during a devastating sack on Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton that resulted in a forced fumble and subsequent touchdown. Jones had 56 pass rushes, a forced fumble and two sacks – then came the injury. He spent nearly the rest of the 2014 regular season on the injured reserve/designated to return list only to return in Week 14 and share time with Arthur Moats. Jones saw his snap count drop even further once Harrison returned from his own injury capping what many have indicated was just another unproductive season.
The fact that Jones is still winged by a less than 100 percent wrist may be of concern. An inability to use that hand to push offensive linemen out of his way and wrap up for tackles will be a determining factor on how effective he can be on the Steelers’ defense. Although Jones still has time to continue his rehabilitation before the beginning of training camp and the preseason, the stress of practice could hamper that process.