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Fitchner: 'He’s growing every day'

Posted Nov 22, 2015

Quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner has had an interesting season up to this point, having started three different quarterbacks through Week 10 of the 2015 NFL season.

Landry Jones never complained, Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner insisted, when the Steelers signed Mike Vick in the wake of the season-ending injury suffered by backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski in the preseason.

Jones simply kept his head down and kept working and kept waiting for an opportunity he was determined to be ready for whenever it eventually materialized.

“I think he looked at it as, ‘I’m going to take advantage of every rep I can do,’” quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner said. “His preparation never changed. And our work, what he was doing, never changed. He was still going to get some work in practice. He was still going to get some work with the scout team. He was still preparing like he was going to be the starter.

“To his credit, I don’t think he ever gave it a thought like that, he just moved forward. I just saw him keep on working, he kept working hard. It didn’t faze him, so that probably told you a lot about him, too.”

Jones, a third-year pro, finally got his chance to play in an NFL game on Oct. 18 against Arizona.

He replaced Vick (hamstring) for the second and final time early in the third quarter with the Steelers trailing, 10-6.

Jones’ second NFL pass turned out to be an 8-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Martavis Bryant that gave the Steelers a lead they’d never relinquish.

And that turned out to be the first of four consecutive possessions led by Jones that resulted in points for the Steelers.

Subsequent opportunities have resulted in Jones starting on Oct. 25 in Kansas City, replacing Roethlisberger in the fourth quarter on Nov. 8 against Oakland and starting the Steelers’ last game prior to their bye against Cleveland.

And Jones has been listed ahead of Vick at No. 2 on the depth chart behind Roethlisberger since the week leading up to the Steelers’ game against the Bengals on Nov. 1.

“I don’t think anyone thought for a minute that he wouldn’t be able to do it,” Fichtner said of Jones. “I don’t know about all the decisions that were made, but I know Mike’s played an awful lot of football.

“You’re always looking for the experience in the room.”

Jones’ initial NFL experiences have resulted in 31 completions in 51 attempts for 479 yards with three touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 95.1.

His initial on-field contributions have been critical to the Steelers reaching the bye at 6-4.

“He’s had great opportunity now to come in and play, having to win the game, preserve a game, start a game and get a chance to not win a game and have to come back from that,” Fichtner said. “That’s all a part of this process. He’s proven that he can win a professional game.

“He’s growing every day.”