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Jarvis Jones preparing to lead Steelers pass rush

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It isn't a question of work ethic or effort with Steelers' second-year OLB Jarvis Jones. It's simply a matter of time. The more he learns, the more likely the Steelers are to break out of their recent sack funk.

Justin K. Aller

The Steelers defense usually has a veteran starting outside linebacker, and a younger starting outside linebacker. The last season or so has put that balance in a state of flux, with injuries to former Steelers LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison, the position became a hodge-podge of veterans and younger players alike.

The Steelers hoped to end that trend when they selected Jarvis Jones in the first round of last year's draft. Despite a few injuries of his own, he did enough to show why he's likely an entrenched starter heading into the offseason program that begins in May.

He spoke with reporter Missi Matthews recently, highlighting the ups and downs of what was a rocky rookie season.

"Everyone expected a lot out of me (last year), I didn't get down on myself because I didn't have the production I had in college.

"I have to work harder than I have been."

Question his production, but you can't question his work ethic. Jones plays the game much like he prepares for it; constant and unrelenting. Like most, if not all, rookies, his struggle wasn't in effort, it was in knowledge and strength. He appeared overwhelmed at times as he worked to adapt to the pro game.

Jones says he knew it, too.

"A lot of plays out there a lot of sacks out there I was capable of making but I didn't make, that's the small details of the game of football, the inches. I was disappointed but it dries over. It's going to be motivation for this offseason."

Jones looks to boost the Steelers from one of their lowest sack-producing seasons in decades. With just 32, and an average of about 34 over the last three years, the Steelers need to emphasize quarterback pressure.

Jones was brought in to do just that.