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Jarvis Jones will work to get stronger, not just bigger

The Steelers' first rookie starting outside linebacker in over 30 years looks to improve physically to improve on his underwhelming first season.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Jarvis Jones didn't exactly push to lead all NFL rookies in sacks. Neither he (one sack) nor the Steelers (34) had much success in that regard. But Jones showed much more promise in Week 17 than he did in Week 1. That leads to the belief the 15th game of his career (he missed two his rookie season) and beyond will be considerably better than where he started.

He had nine tackles in Pittsburgh's 20-7 win over Cleveland in the season finale, and he was facing Cleveland's All-Pro level left tackle Joe Thomas.

In a season in which much discussion was had regarding the battle between LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds over which will rush against the opposing right tackle, Jones continued to work against the left tackle - typically considered the better pass protector of the two tackles.

Work ethic and health are two critical components to the success of a pass rusher. Jones missed Pittsburgh's Week 7 game against Baltimore with a concussion, and its Week 16 game against Green Bay with an illness. Outside of that, he's considered to be one of the hardest workers on the team.

His rookie campaign top to bottom may have been underwhelming statistically, but considering he's the first rookie to start consistently at the outside linebacker position since the team employed a 3-4 defensive look in 1982, some credence can be given to his experience.

The idea of him having another year in the weight room, and another year to grow - or in his words, another year to " harder than I ever did before, physically and mentally" - provides some optimism the Steelers can break out of a three-year long sacks funk.