In a feature piece by Tribune-Review reporter Alan Robinson, Steelers linebacker Larry Foote said the Steelers will more than likely start veteran outside linebacker Jason Worilds over rookie first round draft pick Jarvis Jones.
But that doesn't mean Jones is behind the curve by any means.
"It's going to be difficult (for Jones to start immediately), especially outside," Foote said. "There is so much technique, (knowing) where you've got to line up, inside or outside. The fortunate thing is they (Jones' Georgia Bulldogs) played a 3-4. ... I've seen a lot (of players) come in as rookies and not have a clue, but you can tell he's been around our type of football."
It's a wonder if Foote may have been referring to Worilds or even former University of Michigan teammate LaMarr Woodley, neither of whom played a base 3-4 defense in college. The pair will likely make up the highest drafted tandem of starting outside linebackers in team history when the season begins.
Unless Jones somehow supplants Worilds. Clearly, Foote does not see that happening. But that doesn't mean Jones couldn't contribute anywhere else.
Rookies don't typically play much in Dick LeBeau's defense, but the NFL as a whole has clearly been countering the high-powered passing offenses that have sprung up in recent years by disguising heavy pass rushes in sub packages. San Francisco's Aldon Smith had 14 sacks as a rookie who only played approximately half of the team's defensive snaps in 2011.
It would be unusual, to put it mildly, for a rookie to get even that much playing time. Woodley barely saw the field as a rookie in 2007, and Worilds saw it even less his first year in 2010. Jones, 23, is also older than most of the defensive players the Steelers draft, and saw extensive time playing in a similar scheme at Georgia.
The Steelers continue with their final round of OTAs today and Thursday, with a full team minicamp scheduled for June 11-13.