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Steelers backup QB Landry Jones is standing in a pretty good spot these days

Entering his fifth season, Landry Jones has graduated from young backup quarterback to veteran backup quarterback. Perhaps not the career he envisioned, but not a bad place to stand, either.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Like every other young quarterback prospect, it's safe to assume Landry Jones once envisioned an NFL career where he enjoyed great success, both in a competitive sense and perhaps financially.

Heck, entering his fifth season in the NFL, it's safe to assume Jones still envisions those things in a professional football career that began four-plus years ago, when the Steelers selected him in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

But it's a tough break being drafted by an NFL franchise that already employs one of the greatest quarterbacks in the game.

If you're Jones, what do you do in that case?

True, you show up to the offseason workouts, study the playbook relentlessly, work your tail off at training camp and do your best to perform at a high level when you get into those preseason games that the guy in-front of you on the depth chart and all of his offensive starting colleagues rarely see any action in.

Sadly, though, once the regular season starts, you know you won't do much during the real games but stand around with the proverbial clipboard, while you send in legit or dummy hand signals and occasionally huddle next to your offensive coordinator and the starting QB during those TV timeouts and listen intently as they diagram the next play.

Sure, there are those practice reps where you oftentimes get to emulate and run the opponent's offense every week, which, much like everything else you're asked to do for your job, can be a valuable learning tool.

But it ain't quite the same as seeing some real bullets, which are only fired during the regular season, when Maurkice Pouncey is keeping you clean and Antonio Brown is running superb routes.

This is what separates a backup quarterback from just about every other reserve position in football.

Everyone is pretty confident Vince Williams will step in and do a fine job as a replacement for Lawrence Timmons at inside linebacker, after the latter left for the Dolphins as a free-agent following a pretty distinguished 10-year career in Pittsburgh.

And why?

Because Williams has seen plenty of those "real bullets" during the course of his first four seasons with the Steelers. Sure, a lot of that was out of necessity, thanks to various injuries suffered by Ryan Shazier and Timmons. But it was also by design and getting consistent backup reps during games as well as being a regular participant on special teams (and often performing at a high level in both cases).

Backup quarterbacks don't get to dodge any of those live bullets by design; they either get to see them in a mop-up role at the end of the game or out of necessity due to an injury during the game.

There are times when a young backup quarterback goes into a week knowing he's going to start and gets to prepare accordingly.

The typical performance level of the regular starter (in Ben Roethlisberger's case, that's obviously pretty darn high), usually determines the confidence most will have in the young backup's ability to get the job done.

That's bad enough.

What makes matters worse is the lack of real bullets this youngster has seen over the years, thanks to being a backup quarterback with nothing to do but, again, stand around and "absorb."

People usually complain about the backup's less than savory performance after the game (most-likely a loss) and criticize his lack of development.

But how can a young backup quarterback truly develop into something special if he never.....

It's a conundrum.

Such an occupation might be okay for a grizzled veteran who's been around the block a time or 10 and knows how to prepare when his name is called.

But a youngster?

Not an enviable position, to say the least.

However, as he prepares for the 2017 regular season, it may not be much of a stretch to say Jones, 28, is now closer to a grizzled vet than he is an inexperienced backup trying to prove himself.

After seeing zero action over his first two seasons in Pittsburgh as the third-string quarterback, Jones was unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight in a game against the Cardinals in Week 6 of the 2015 season, thanks to Roethlisberger's sprained MCL and veteran Mike Vick's failure to grasp the offense following his controversial signing just before the start of the year.

The result?

Not bad, actually, as Jones completed eight of 12 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns, leading Pittsburgh to an impressive second half comeback victory.

The following week, Jones got his first career start against the Chiefs at Arrowhead stadium, and really didn't perform all that horribly, completing 16 of 29 passes for 209 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in a 23-13 loss.

After that, came more heroics late in a last-second victory over the Raiders, as Jones came on in the fourth quarter following yet another injury to Roethlisberger; an aborted second start against the Browns, when Jones suffered an injury on the first drive and was replaced by Roethlisberger, who basically went on to have the best game in NFL history for a "backup" quarterback; and a forgettable showing in the fourth quarter of the wild card victory over the Bengals, when he failed to move the offense and nearly gave the season away, with an interception to villain Vontaze Burfict before being rescued by Roethlisberger, who, for the third time in 2015, left the field with an injury and could barely raise his right arm above his head, as he led the team to a last-second field goal attempt.

For whatever reason, Jones lost the confidence of the fans during the 2016 preseason (if he ever had it in the first place) and not even a competent performance against the Patriots in Week 7 or an overtime victory over the Browns in Week 17 could gain it back.

But that's often the plight of a backup quarterback, who, when he is playing behind an all-time great, is not the most popular player on the team (sorry, John Madden).

Starting last summer, there were calls for the Steelers to upgrade at the backup quarterback position.

Those calls continued this past offseason, once Jones hit the free-agent market. But while the Steelers certainly had their chance to move on from Jones, who has completed 85 of 141 passes for 1,071 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions during his career (very backup-like), they didn't seem to find it necessary.

Instead, the Steelers inked Jones to a two-year, $4.4 million deal to continue as their backup through 2018.

Yes, they also drafted Joshua Dobbs in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but I'm pretty sure they didn't do so with the intent of throwing him into the lineup anytime soon.

However, Dobbs could find himself playing a ton of preseason games over the next couple of summers.

If that is the case, Dobbs won't have to search hard to find someone to offer him advice on how to handle this situation, as head coach Mike Tomlin once quipped that Jones logged more preseason snaps than any quarterback in history.

It's not an easy thing being a young backup quarterback.

But while Jones is clearly still a backup quarterback, he's graduated to the more enviable position of veteran and someone who his bosses obviously trust to come on in a pinch and perform competently (I doubt they would have re-signed him, otherwise).

There aren't too many quarterback jobs available (backup or otherwise), and Jones has one of them.

Being on the sidelines of Heinz Field as Ben Roethlisberger's backup? Not a bad place to stand if your'e Landry Jones.