PITTSBURGH -- Now that second-round pick Le'Veon Bell appears to be in a groove, running hard and opening things up for the Pittsburgh Steelers passing game, it's time for No. 1 pick Jarvis Jones to step up his game.
Jones has much more of an upside than Jason Worilds, who started this past game at right outside linebacker after the rookie was deactivated on game day. But Jones had four straight starts after following Worilds onto the field in the season-opener.
It's not surprising that Jones has made more plays than Worilds in one less game, but the Steelers expect even more out of him and certainly need more when one considers what the previous right outside linebacker -- James Harrison -- gave the club in recent years. Jones has 14 tackles in five games, including 12 solo, but zero sacks. He has three quarterback pressures and four special teams tackles, but nothing else except a couple close calls.
But you know the old saying about close only counting in horseshoes and hand grenades, or something like that. Anyway, it certainly doesn't count in the NFL, unless one believes Jones that he was close to returning to the starting lineup last week. Jones certainly should play against the Oakland Raiders Sunday at 4:05 p.m. (ET) at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif.
"I think I'm fine," Jones said this week. "I'm just going to continue to do what they ask me to do and just be ready when my opportunity comes. Clearly, I'm fine. I just have to sit back and wait to see what the people that are giving me my directions say. I guess I'll see in a few days."
Jones was listed as a full participant in practice Wednesday and said he didn't have any ill effects from the concussion he suffered against the New York Jets. Jones still has no idea when it happened, although some believe it was near the end of the game, just after Jones made a key play with a big hit.
The Steelers also brought in noted concussion specialist Dr. Micky Collins to give Jones a second look. Jones appreciated the precautions taken by the Steelers.
"All the talk you hear going on in the league with head injuries and stuff, I think our organization does a great job of being cautious and taking care of our players and making sure things are fine before you put them back out there,'' Jones said. "(And) I felt like it was one of the best things to do.
"I hadn't been through physical contact or anything like that. They know better. I think they've been doing it for quite some time, and I think they've got some of the best people in the business to diagnose and treat it. I'm sure they knew what they were doing, and they decided it was the right thing to do.''
The right thing for Jones to do now is to go all out and dominate a game the Harrison did on occasion. He needs to get to quarterback Terrelle Pryor this week, sack him and knock the football out of his hands. The strip-sack is a technique where Harrison excelled.
It's time for Jones to take his game to the next level. The Steelers are banking a lot on Jones, that he can be their next big-play linebacker.
Jones needs to pay off in a big way.
Watch Neal Coolong's post-draft breakdown and analysis on rookie Jarvis Jones