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Steelers Landry Jones in make-or-break offseason

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The Steelers selected Landry Jones in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, but that's by far the highlight of his career.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers QB Landry Jones was supposed to inject some youth into the quarterback position.

Although Ben Roethlisberger is one of the elite quarterbacks in the league, he's missed at least one game in every season prior to 2013. His backups included an effective but aging Charlie Batch and the steady but oft-injured Byron Leftwich.

So, in the fourth round of the 2013 Draft, Pittsburgh scooped up the Oklahoma standout Landry Jones with the hope he could serve as a capable backup, perhaps even take over the starting reigns someday.

Jones was an extremely successful player in college, as he lead the Sooners to double-digit wins in each of his three seasons as a starter, won a BCS game and ended his career as one of the most prolific passers in school history.

Unfortunately, Jones, who is named after Cowboys Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry, has yet to replicate his collegiate success at a professional level.  Although the Steelers had no intention of bringing Jones in to challenge the incumbent Roethlisberger, the 25-year old signal caller is still buried on the depth chart

In fact, Jones has yet to be active for a regular season game, his only experience coming in the preseason.  General manager Kevin Colbert feels Jones has made progress as a player, but doesn't see him as a challenger for the backup spot yet.

"Has he progressed to the point where he beat out Bruce (Gradkowski) as the No. 2? No," Colbert said. "Maybe he will, maybe he won't. I think when you have young guys, at least they have that chance to grow," Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

Jones' future as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers isn't guaranteed. The Steelers have drafted two other quarterbacks since Roethlisberger was selected with the 11th overall pick in the 2003 draft, Dennis Dixon and Omar Jacobs, both selected in the fifth round. Jacobs was relegated to the practice squad after the preseason and cut shortly after, while Dixon enjoyed a reasonably successful run with the Steelers prior to his release in 2011.

Like Jones, Dixon and Jacobs both came from schools that run a high-octane spread offense where the quarterback usually lines up in shotgun. The adjustment to a pro-style offense often proves to be the bane of younger passers, as Jones especially has struggled with his accuracy in his short career.

Landry Jones will be given the opportunity to become the player the Steelers need him to be. But, if he comes up short, the Steelers Have shown they have no second thoughts about pulling the plug on a quarterback project.