Tomlin expects Jarvis 'to be on the rise'

There was never a doubt Jarvis Jones' name would be included among the Steelers' final 53, with the only qualifier being that the 2013 No. 1 draft pick would emerge from training camp healthy enough to be a part of the regular season's initial roster.

But there's also no confusing Jones as a finished product, and no reason for commemorating the occasion with the type of celebratory "snapshot" the head coach hopes would prove outdated quickly.

"Jarvis is the type of young guy I expect to continually be on the rise," Coach Mike Tomlin explained in advance of the Steelers' cut to 53. "Sometimes you think as you push forward toward opening day that you can take a snapshot of the individual and the group and that's the finished product, and really that's far from the case.

"I expect (Jones), and I expect us, to continually get better even as we push through opening day and into this season. Because the reality is ultimately, if we're going to be the type of team that we need to be and want to be and the type of individual players that we need to be and want to be, we're going to be continually in growth and development, particularly from a young guys' standpoint."

Jones has that much figured out as a second-year player.

"The biggest part of this game is challenging yourself mentally," he said. "I feel like if you're here you have the physical side of it or the coaches wouldn't have brought you in. My whole thing is learning the game and preparing myself mentally week in and week out, and really every day."

Jones' agenda along those lines includes "approaching practice with tempo, with the right mind-set," he said. "Taking advantage of my time out there, working on my technique, just learning football, period – formations, tendencies, watching a whole lot of film.

"Just putting the time in and learning football, the game of football outside of just lining up and physically going one-on-one with somebody. That's the most important thing for me right now, getting more comfortable within the defense and learning what I can do in our defense."

Jones made eight starts and played in 14 games as a rookie. The reality going into his second NFL season is he'll need to produce more than the one sack he managed in 2013.

The Steelers anticipate that happening as a result of Jones doing what's required of him within the structure of the defense and by applying the proper technique. The idea is not to freelance or otherwise compromise assignments in an effort to satisfy the outside expectations attached to outside linebackers with pass-rushing reputations who become first-round draft picks.

"I can only control what I can control, and that's coming here every day and putting the work in, doing what my coaches and my teammates ask me to do," Jones said. "If I do what I have to do here, that'll take care of business.

"I understand what they're asking me to do and what they're asking to get out of me. They brought me in to be a pass rusher and get after the quarterback and, playing linebacker, coverages and all of the other things that come with it. I'm just trying to complete my game, add all the values I can to my game so I can perform.

"At this point last year I was completely out of it as far as how to line up and things like that. I learned as the season went on. This year I feel so comfortable. I feel things are going in the right direction with me. There's still more to learn. I'm really just taking it day by day."

There's no reason to celebrate that development with the type of "selfie" that litters a typical Twitter account. But there's every reason to approach Sunday's regular season opener against the Cleveland Browns with anticipation and excitement, for Jones and for the Steelers.

"I'm very excited," he said. "I've been working tremendously hard. It's time to show the work I put in and continue to put in."

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.