Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones went down during the Steelers' Week 3 win over the Carolina Panthers with a significant wrist injury. Reports circulating Thursday suggest Jones will be activated for the team's Week 14 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
That's a good thing for the Steelers.
First, let's remember, Jones played reasonably well in two games against the Bengals in his rookie season. He stepped in for the injured LaMarr Woodley (the last game he would play as a Steeler) in Week 15 after Woodley went down early in the game. The Steelers' defense played very well in the first half, and Jones was a part of that. He also did pretty well in Week 2, his second game as a pro.
Also, he wasn't playing badly through 2.5 games this season. He had seven stops and two sacks in 10 quarters - perhaps not the kind of play befitting an All Pro guy, but enough splash-plays to think he's turning the corner in his second season.
While James Harrison, his replacement, has played his way into shape, it can only help the Steelers to have a situation-based pass rusher in order to change things up. The Steelers' defensive scheme has looked stale and flat over the last two weeks and, while it was showing some semblance of explosion midway through the year, that fire has dimmed a bit during the last two games.
Keep in mind, the Steelers used Jones a bit between the hashes in nickel situations during the preseason, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Jones utilized in that sort of role, maybe even as early as Week 14. Adding the element of surprise with a good short-zone coverage linebacker who can blitz in concert with edge-rushers Harrison and Jason Worilds can create confusion. They'll need to mix it up against a good offensive line like the one in Cincinnati.
If nothing else, it's a fresh body on a defense that has changed quite a bit from the last time Jones was playing consistently. His presence can be valuable within the team's sub-packages, and on special teams as well.
The Steelers will need all the help they can get anyway, facing one of the league's better rushing offenses and a team that gets fairly one-dimensional when it comes to longer downs. Getting to quarterback Andy Dalton before he has time to find A.J. Green deep down the field is a necessity. Jones can help the Steelers accomplish that, if he can get onto the field this weekend.