Jones: 'Everybody wants to play'

A year ago Landry Jones went through OTAs with the only playing experience under his belt being two years of preseason action. As the team's third string quarterback, he never made his way on the field in a game that counted in the standings in his first two seasons.

"It's tough. It's hard," said Jones. "Everybody wants to play. Everybody wants to be the starter. In the reality of things somebody has to be the third string quarterback, somebody has to be the backup.

"That was my reality for a little while."

Things certainly have changed for Jones.

The Steelers participate in Day 4 of the 2016 Organized Team Activities at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

A combination of injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick threw Jones into the spotlight against the Arizona Cardinals at Heinz Field last October, and he finished the game completing 8-of-12 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns while leading the Steelers to a 25-12 win.

"It was unbelievable," said Jones, who just welcomed a baby boy along with his wife Whitney. "My wife and I still talk about the first time I got to go out there and played. The Arizona game was wild. It kind of felt surreal.

"You draw confidence from it. You learn from other games too, the mistakes that you made. It's still football though, and the things that got you here are the things that keep you here."

Jones had played behind Roethlisberger and Bruce Gradkowski his first two seasons, learning but never being able to crack into a backup role. But he said last year he felt like he was ready, and he had no choice after injuries struck, which included losing Gradkowski before the season even began.

"I felt like during camp last year things started clicking for me," said Jones. "I have just been trying to build on that. I got more comfortable inside the offense and started trusting myself and not worrying about the future so much. I was staying in the moment.

"It's tough when you are in a situation where you are wanting to go out there and play, and you are overanalyzing every throw. For me it was almost the fear of making the mistake and not going out there and just playing kind of held me back. I had to get to this place where I forgot about everything else and just cut loose and had fun out there."

Jones played in seven games, starting two, and completed 32 passes for 513 yards and three touchdowns. And when all three quarterbacks were healthy, he remained the number two guy behind Roethlisberger, getting the nod over Vick.

"It's what am I going to build on," said Jones. "I did well last year. I had things where I made mistakes. As long as I keep building upon it I think I will be okay. I am going to still go out there and work hard and do the things that I do."

With Gradkowski re-signed to a one-year deal, Jones doesn't know what his role is going be, but it's not something he is focusing on. He just know he has to go out there and take advantage of every opportunity.

"If I get so caught up into that kind of stuff I feel like it drags me down," said Jones. "I am going to take care of my thing, just the Lord take care of everything else. I need to let the chips fall where they may. It's not like I am going to slack off or anything. I am just going to go out there and handle my business."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.