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Rarely do the Steelers need their rookies to start, and this year is no exception. With that said, it would be nice if Jarvis Jones could win a starting job, or at the very least earn a situational role this year.
One of the reasons that so few rookies for the Steelers start—particularly on defense—is because of the complex schemes.
No one knows this better than Troy Polamalu, a former first-round selection who had to sit and learn the defense his rookie year. He told Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review some of the challenges of learning LeBeau’s scheme.
"It's like trying to teach algebra to basic math," Polamalu said. "You've got to almost erase their career and what they've learned to this point and start anew with this defense."
Keith Butler added that Jones has a lot to learn, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
In college, he kind of free lanced a little bit, and we’re a little more disciplined in what we ask them to do and the techniques we ask them to use in the passing game. All he did (at Georgia) was drop straight back and look at the quarterback. We’re asking him to do a lot of different things in terms of pass coverage, and that’s not one of them. We’ve got to get him out of that habit, and he’s willing to get out of that habit.
So despite his incredible talents as a pass-rusher—and the Steelers' need for a pass-rusher—Jones has a lot to learn before he gets on the field as a starter.
It is easy to compare his situation to LaMarr Woodley’s when he was a rookie.
Woodley showed that he could get to the quarterback. He had four sacks in 13 games but still sat behind the veteran Clark Haggans.
Jones doesn’t have an incredibly experienced veteran ahead of him. Instead, he will have to beat out Jason Worilds for the starting gig.
Worilds doesn’t have a proven track record like Haggans did, but he does know the defense and has some starting experience.
That doesn’t mean that Jones doesn’t have a chance to win the starting job. Even though he has a lot to learn, Butler told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette that they have been impressed so far.
"He's showing us things, and, if he keeps showing those things he's going to be a big part of that, hopefully," Butler said.
More importantly, Jones has caught the eye of LeBeau, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"He's shown us a lot of instinctive football ability," LeBeau said. "If the coach doesn't mess him up, I think he's got a chance to be a pretty good player."