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Steelers QB Landry Jones progressing towards backup role behind Ben Roethlisberger

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Three weeks ago, nobody knew where Landry Jones would end up after Steelers preseason was complete. The 4th rounder from three seasons ago is improving to where he could be No. 2 by the time the season starts.

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Football is a funny sport. One day you have a starting job, the next you are at Fed Ex looking for part-time work because you got cut by the 49ers. For Pittsburgh Steelers backup QB Landry Jones, his NFL journey has been very uneventful. Drafted in the 4th round from Oklahoma, Jones wasn't going to see much playing time with Ben Roethlisberger cemented as the starter for your Pittsburgh Steelers.

So why draft a QB with a 4th round pick? What did the Steelers scouting department see in him exactly to use a 4th round selection on him? For the 1st two seasons, he didn't dress for a single game. He really gave fans little indication that he would ever see the field of play, at least in Pittsburgh.

Now after 3 preseason games, and Bruce Gradkowski suffering some sort of hand injury on Sunday vs. Green Bay, the play of Jones becomes even more critical as he could end up being the No. 2 quarterback before the season starts. His play over the past two weeks has shown he is improving. Yesterday's 4th quarter effort was also a good sign, as Jones threw a pair of TD passes in leading the Steelers to a 24-19 come from behind win.

The win was costly for sure, as center Maurkice Pouncey suffered a left ankle injury when he got rolled up from behind on a Le'Veon Bell run. He's expected to go under the knife and will be out for some time. As for Gradkowski, he hurt his hand on some bizarre fumble. It was supposed to be a game where Gradkowski was finally able to play after coming off the PUP list.

So much for that plan.

As it has turned out, Landry Jones is starting to make some improvements to his play, and it comes at a really good time. I like Gradkowski. Who doesn't like a Pittsburgh kid? But as he is now in his 10th season, his best is probably behind him. He has experience, no question, but for Jones, this is the opportunity he has been looking for, and I, for one, want to see him grab the job and show the club he's ready for being a backup to a star QB in this league.

"I felt pretty comfortable out there,' said Jones after the win over the Packers. "Like I said early, we were rocky on offense, but we picked it up and it felt good."

Jones had some big 3rd down conversions in that 2nd half. And given the fact his 1st throw of the day was an interception, he rallied well going 11 for 17 for 170 yards and a pair of 4th quarter touchdowns. But it was the play on key 3rd downs that brought a smile to his face.

"It's always great when you are down, in a 3rd down conversion and in field goal range to keep the chains moving that allowed us to get that touchdown."

When asked about some of the drops the wide receivers had on Sunday, Jones shrugged it off and was savvy to take some of the blame for what took place.

"Drops are going to happen," he said. "It's not like they are going out there trying to drop the ball. I could have helped them out with more accurate throws. It goes both ways. Sometimes they are going to drop the pass and sometimes I'm going miss a throw. We just can't have as many as we had today."

I'm not going to say Jones is ready to start in this league. He's certainly not going to replace Ben. But as of now, I'm starting to feel more confident in the fact that IF needed, Landry Jones is making the progression needed to take over as a possible backup if Gradkowski can't make it due to health reasons. At some point you have to make tough decisions and Jones is doing just that for the Steelers coaching staff.

John Phillips is the author of this article. He works for CBS Radio Pittsburgh as a reporter/sports anchor for 93.7 The Fan and News Radio 1020 KDKA. Follow JP on Twitter @PGHJohnPhillips