PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones certainly looks like he could be a pass-rushing demon this season.
Jones, the club's first-round draft pick last year, is big, strong and athletic. But that didn't translate to big numbers, as Jones tallied just one sack as an NFL rookie. Jones has worked hard this spring to improve that part of his game.
"I've been learning different techniques, hand placement, feet placement and just different things that you can do within the defense that allow you to make plays but, at the same time, be on the same page to what your coaches and teammates have asked you to do,'' Jones said Thursday.
Jones has said that he's stronger than he was last season and his body type has improved, but he doesn't look any different physically. His on-field play, however, has changed drastically with help from former Steelers outside linebacker Joey Porter.
"I'm way more comfortable than I was last year,'' Jones said. "We got J.P. in here to help us out this year. He's a great motivator, and he taught us a lot in the past couple of weeks. To have a guy who actually played the game like he did, a great player, I learned a lot.''
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At this time last year, Jones appeared to be confused during spring drills, and he said he really didn't know what to expect. But now that he's gone through a full year of workouts, including his second set of spring drills Jones believed the game was starting to slow down for him.
"There's been some highs and lows, things that you know you do well, but things that you also have to work on,'' Jones said. "And what I've worked on this spring are the things that will help me get better and help my team get better, understanding the system and the playbook much better and getting in the best shape possible to perform at a high level.''
So, is Jones ready to have a breakout season?
"Nah, man, we're not going to make any assumptions,'' Jones said. "We're going to play and continue to work and continue to take it one day at a time. That's what I'm going to focus on during the rest of this offseason and just try to get better every day to get ready for training camp.''
Porter, a first-year Steelers defensive assistant, has tried to impart all his pass-rushing knowledge on Jones.
"Pass rushing is all in believing that you can beat the guy (across from you) and executing your craft,'' Porter said. "You have to work at it. You can't just go out and not do any pass-rushing staff during the week and expect to go out there and get a sack on Sunday.''
Porter was intense as a player, something that was missing from Jones game during his rookie season. Porter has tried to maintain that intensity as a coach.
"I've got to give them the full me,'' Porter said. "I'm just going to do what's asked of me. ... As a player I would say something slick like I knew it all. As a coach I've got to be humble, because I don't. I'm young in this business, and I'm trying to learn. Like I tell him all the time, you put in the work, and I'm going to be here to help you with whatever you need. I played the position.
"Soak up all the knowledge I have like a sponge, and I'll just keep giving it to you. Last year, I could imagine how he struggled with the defense. This is a complex defense, (and) to learn it that fast and be thrown in the fire (is tough). ... He's a first-round pick. I didn't have that much pressure on me as a third-round pick. I didn't get thrown into the starting lineup like he did.''
Jones has been extremely attentive when his new coach talks and watches his every move. So, what has Jones gleaned so far?
"I think he was just taking the stuff that he saw me do and cleaned it up a little bit, along with the stuff that I saw him do here and there and stuff that we both talked about that I can do to be a better player, like my pass rush,'' Jones said.
Notes: Tomlin moved the Steelers indoors after a torrential downpour midway through Thursday's final mini-camp practice. ... Tomlin noted that inside linebacker Sean Spence went through spring drills without any issues and should not have any restrictions at training camp. Spence, who missed the past two seasons after knee and arm surgeries, said he was eager for camp to begin.