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What Jarvis Jones feels he must do this offseason to improve

The Steelers' second year outside linebacker recognizes the issues he's had over the past two years, and he's using that experience to improve, writes BTSC's Dale Grdnic, after speaking to Jones after the season.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH -- In the two seasons since the Pittsburgh Steelers made him their first-round draft pick, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones hasn't exactly reminded fans of the franchise's great pass-rushers.

In 21 games with just 11 starts, including an injury-marred 2014, Jones has three sacks, four pass breakups and one forced fumble. Still, the Steelers are high on Jones, just ask defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

"He's getting better every day and feeling more and more at home,'' LeBeau said after Jones returned from a broken right wrist. "Jarvis is going to be a very good NFL football player. Very good. He's just back picking it up. At the end of last year, he was starting to impact games pretty regularly, and he's going to get back to that level, in my mind, without a doubt.''

One of the Steelers' great pass-rushers also offered his opinion.

"I'm not real good on looking at development, but just from what I saw he was playing with a hurt hand,'' Harrison said. "He really wasn't using it. Now, what I saw on previous tape of him, he was looking good, like he could possibly come in and do all the things that were necessary.''

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but it's not bad, coming from Harrison. Jones also provided an assessment of his performance.

"My first year wasn't as good as I wanted, and this year really put me behind the ball,'' Jones said. "So, I've got a lot of work to do, and it's something I have to focus on. I've just got to continue to work hard and continue to get better, as I prepare to go into my third year. So, that's what I want to focus on. The past two years definitely weren't what I wanted them to be.''

Jones acknowledged that he can do the same things he was supposed to do the previous season -- put on some weight, get stronger and get into his playbook more often -- also are on the menu this offseason.

What can he do in the offseason?

I can say all of that, (but) I just need to become a better football player and understand the things that I need to get better at. So, when the season comes, I can help my team in all phases. So, whatever's required getting stronger, gaining weight, understanding the things I need to know to become a better football player. All that comes in hand, and I need to work on it all.

Jones also believed he was on track for success before the injury. In fact, he went down while completing a strip-sack in a win at Carolina. And he was thrilled to get a season with Harrison, even if it mostly was from the sideline.

"I felt like things were coming on, and I was making plays,'' Jones said. "I definitely was heading in the right direction. (Harrison) is a tremendously hard worker. One of the hardest workers that I've ever seen. He attacks this game with a passion.

"Just watching him from the sideline when I was out and watching him during the couple weeks when I did get a chance to play with him, just watching him how he does things, different techniques and just talking with him, I did learn some things from him.''

Still, Jones believed the injury set him back this year, but he still had a positive outlook on the situation.

"I wasn't able to use my hands like I once could,'' Jones said. "It kind of did, but things happen, and you've just got to deal with it. It's something that I couldn't control. I made the decision to come back and play with it, so it is what it is.''

Whether Harrison is on the roster or not next season, Jones believed the Steelers starting right outside linebacker position basically was his to lose.

"It's something that I need to hold,'' Jones said. "It's something that I'm going to work hard for, but we'll see. It's definitely a coach's decision, but I'm going to give everything that I've got so that I'm prepared from Day 1 to come in here and do the things that I need to do.''

And if he does that, Jones could start to etch his place among some of the great Steelers pass-rushers.