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Jarvis Jones needs to know what he's doing before he plays, says Steelers LBs coach Keith Butler

Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler says the main deterrent first round pick Jarvis Jones has from starting immediately is his lack of a grasp of the defense.


Steelers rookie Jarvis Jones has 41 years of history working against him.

It will be 41 years since a rookie last started at outside linebacker in the Steelers defense, assuming Jones will be unable to wrest the job from Jason Worilds when the Steelers and Titans clash Sept. 8.

Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who will turn 76 the day after that Titans game, has never started a rookie on defense, let alone at outside linebacker.

But, according to Post-Gazette writer Ed Bouchette, Jones has at least a puncher's chance of breaking both of those streaks.

Somewhat contrary to other reports suggesting Jones is being brought about slowly - and there's no reason to think he's not - the key with Jones is the fact he played the position in college. He played it at a high level in college, in fact. The Steelers typically convert defensive ends into outside linebackers, and the transition to learn the critical position in LeBeau's defense takes a bit longer than one offseason.

Just ask LaMarr Woodley. Already established as one of the better pass rushers in team history, Woodley barely sniffed the field his rookie year after playing defensive end at Michigan.

Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler noted Jones' learning curve, and points simply to what Jones needs to do in order to get on the field.

"I think you play people when they're ready to play and, what I mean by that is when they know what they're doing," Butler said. "If they don't know what they're doing, they hurt the doggone defense, and it's not fair to the rest of the guys to have them out on the field. He knows that, and I've talked to him about it. Before he plays, he has to know what he's doing."