Linebacker Jones showing some punch in second Steelers training camp



With one two-handed punch in a pass-rushing drill, Jarvis Jones knocked left tackle Kelvin Beachum out of his stance and onto his heels, allowing Jones to take an easy inside lane to the quarterback.

Watching with interest was Joey Porter, the former sack-happy linebacker hired as an assistant coach to work with the current linebackers. In particular, Porter will work closely with Jones and Jason Worilds, the bookend outside linebackers, hoping to show them some of the tricks that made him a three-time Pro Bowler with the Steelers. Especially Jones.

“He’s a whiz when it comes to coaching,” Jones said. “As a player and from the coaching side, he knows what’s going on. You’re not hearing it from a guy who just sits there and watched football. It’s someone who was actually in your position and did everything and did it greatly.”

Just don’t suggest to Jones that Porter was brought in to help instill a bit of feistiness in him and Worilds, who officially take over for one of the most successful outside tandems in Steelers history — James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, who combined for 99½ sacks from 2008-12.

Porter was a notorious trash-talker in his eight-year career with the Steelers who once went to the Baltimore Ravens team bus after a game to challenge Ray Lewis to step off.

“Attitude?” Jones said, biting off the suggestion. “Nobody’s got to fix my attitude. I’m ready every day.

“Just because I’m chilling and I’m nice to y’all, my attitude is fixed. They wouldn’t have drafted me if they thought they had to bring someone in to fix my attitude.”

Actually, if Porter can get Jones to do what he did in a one-on-one pass-rush drill against Beachum, then his method of teaching will be a success.

Jones did not — or could not — do that last season when he was the Steelers’ No. 1 draft choice. It’s one of the reasons he worked on getting stronger and developing better technique heading into his second season.

Jones needs to be more of a disruptive pass-rushing force at right outside linebacker if the Steelers want to improve a defense that struggled in 2013 with big plays, few takeaways and, perhaps most important, lack of pressure. After an impressive preseason in which he flashed great instincts and explosion, Jones had only one sack and 11 quarterback pressures in the regular season.

It was not what the Steelers were expecting from a player who had 28 sacks in his final two seasons at Georgia, including 14½ as a senior to lead Division I-A.

“Coming out of college, I had all the success in the world,” Jones said.

“Everything you wanted to do as a pass-rusher, all the sacks, all the other stuff, that’s gone now. I’ve got to find my way of becoming an elite pass-rusher here in the NFL.

“I got some great guys to help me do that — coach [Keith] Butler, Joey Porter. The main thing is, I’ve got to be that guy to go out there and make that happen. I’ve been working tremendously hard. We’ll see what it brings and how it turns out.”

Jones reported to training camp at 245 pounds, the same weight he played at last season as a rookie.

But he said he is stronger, though he added “it might not look like it.”

Jones found out he needed the extra strength to develop more of a bull-rush move — or do what he did to Beachum — rather than just trying to run around the left tackle all the time. If he can do that, Jones can use those moves to set up his outside rush.

“I did a lot of running the last week and a half and [the weight] kind of came off me a little,” Jones said, lifting his short sleeve to show off his bicep. “But I knew I got stronger, so my main thing coming to camp was just being in shape that I could help myself. I know I pushed my body to the max while I was training to get stronger. I’ve been feeling good.”

The coaches already have noticed how much quicker Jones appears to be in training camp — the result of having a better understanding of the defense.

Now he wants to have a disruptive influence similar to Porter, his mentor, who ranks fifth in team history with 60 sacks.

“I’m passionate about it,” Jones said.

“I love what I do. I love playing this game. I’ve got some great teammates and I’m playing for a great organization. That’s why I play this game. That’s why I try to approach it the right way every time I’m out there.”

•NOTES — The Steelers placed center David Snow on the waived injured list and signed running back Josh Harris, a rookie free agent from Wake Forest. The Steelers needed a running back because Le’Veon Bell has been sidelined by a hamstring injury and Alvester Alexander is on the physically-unable-to-perform list. … After a mandatory day off, the players will resume practice today. The 3 p.m. session will be open to the public.


Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com; twitter: @gerrydulac.

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