Steelers vs. Bengals: OLB Jarvis Jones took reps with the first team, expects to start

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Jones could be the first rookie to start for the Steelers under defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau since Chris Hoke replaced Casey Hampton in 2004.

It took Jarvis Jones all of two plays to register a splash stat in Pittsburgh's Week 1 loss to Tennessee.

Uncovered on the left offensive edge, Jones simply stepped into the backfield, and Titans running back Chris Johnson bounced off him like a tennis ball off concrete.

While he didn't register a sack or generate any pass rush in his 31 snaps, it was apparently enough to push Jones into starter's territory. He told the media after practice Wednesday he's been taking reps with the first team.

"That's the way it is right now," Jones said of his position with the first team, as recorded by Gerry Dulac of the Post Gazette. "As long as I continue to keep doing what I'm doing, I hope it stays like that."

Steelers free safety Ryan Clark told Steel City Insider's Jim Wexell "It seems like " Jones will get the start eventually, if not now, noting he's been getting more reps in practice.

He and veteran Jason Worilds split time, with Jones taking 31 snaps to Worilds' 44, according to NFL Game Statistics Information System.

It's only a rare rookie who starts in the Steelers' defense. Since LeBeau took over the role of defensive coordinator for the Steelers, only one rookie has started consistently for them - nose tackle Chris Hoke in 2004, LeBeau's first year with the team, and that was only due to a knee injury put Casey Hampton out for the season.

(note: Wilson has been in the NFL for three seasons. We originally wrote he was a rookie)

Maybe the presence of rookies in this defense isn't a bad thing. The Steelers won the division and appeared in the AFC Championship game in 2001, and went 15-1 with another AFC title game appearance in 2004.

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