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Retraining Top Pick is Key to His Future

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
Retraining top pick is key to his future
August 13, 2013 By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The education of Jarvis Jones continued Monday as the Steelers stepped into their third and final week of training camp still looking for the "wow" factor from their first-round draft pick.
They expect it to come, and they expected it to evolve the way it has. No rookie has claimed a starting outside linebacker job with the Steelers in the previous 31 years they've run the 3-4 defense and, barring injury, Jones might not be the first. What his coaches would like to do is rotate him into the defense the way they did in 2007 with the rookie LaMarr Woodley.
As with a young bronco, first they have to break Jones of certain habits, like doing whatever it was he felt like doing in Georgia's 3-4 defense.
"He has a great inside move," said Keith Butler, who is in his 11th season coaching the Steelers linebackers. "He is as quick as anybody and, when he gets that inside move on you, it's very hard to stop him from getting to the quarterback. He's very good at that.
"But ... we have a lot of things going on inside him with stunts and games and things like that, that if he does go inside he's going to run into somebody. And so we don't want to put him in a position where he's running into someone else's rush lane. We want to keep him outside.
"It's not just all him doing what he wants to all the time. He's got to do what the defense requires more than anything else."
Even those who have played as long as Butler has coached must fight that. Troy Polamalu admittedly guessed wrong Saturday night, and it cost the Steelers a touchdown. Sometimes, the freelancing works, too.
"James Harrison did it in the Super Bowl and gets a touchdown," Butler recalled. "Then, two years later, he does the same and gets a touchdown scored on him by Tom Brady. Those are great when they work. Just make sure you're doing it at the right time."
Not only is Butler working with Jones on being in the right place, he wants to see a variety of pass-rush moves. Jones made a few good plays Saturday, recovering a fumble and tackling a tight end on third down, but no New York Giants quarterback felt his breath.
Jones, most of all, was drafted because he is a pass rusher, and fans want to see, oh, 15-16 sacks from him.
"I'm hoping for 15-16 sacks, too," Butler said. "We talked about this [Monday]. He has to have a couple of rushes. You can't have all hand slaps, all getting on the edge of people. He has to get down and what we call walk the dog -- collapse the pocket, taking the big, freaking, 350-pound guy, getting right in his face and walking him back to the quarterback."
He's capable of doing that, his coach said, and he has been working on his hands with Steelers broadcaster Tunch Ilkin, their former Pro Bowl offensive tackle.
"You look how heavy his hands are, he has real strong hands," Butler said.
The Steelers plan to move him around inside as well in their nickel pass defenses and let him rush from there. Southern California recruited him as a middle linebacker, and Butler said he has the instincts to play that position, but ...
"He is where we want him," Butler said. "He fits us like a lot of people don't fit us."
They felt lucky to draft him with the 17th overall pick. Their doctors discounted the neck problem that doctors at Southern California supposedly discovered and led to him not playing there. The Steelers also pooh-poohed the 4.9-second 40-yard dash he ran for the scouts at his pro day.
"I think he plays plenty fast at that position," Butler said. "I don't think he's 4.9 by any means.
"Everybody wants the 40 time. Coaches want to see him play. Scouts want to see all the measurables, so, if they don't have a 40 time, they're freaking out going into the draft room: 'We don't have a 40 time on this guy.' So we're constantly looking for that.
"So we go down to his workout and his hamstring is still bothering him, so he runs the 40 and he pulls up right at the end and they take a 4.9 from it, so everybody puts a 4.9 on him.
"He doesn't play at 4.9. You look at the film, it doesn't show a 4.9."
What would he run without the hamstring problem?
"I don't know," Butler said. "I think he probably runs a 4.7, 4.8."
Plenty fast, Butler said. Now they need him to start walking the dog.
Bell returns to practice
Rookie halfback Le'Veon Bell returned to practice with the rest of his teammates Monday and wants to join them for their next game as well Monday against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
Kirby Wilson is looking forward to that almost as much as Bell.
"Hopefully, this is the week he can go out there and show us what he's capable of doing," said Wilson, who coaches the running backs.
Bell already has impressed Wilson through the first two weeks of training camp, although part of that and the entire game Saturday were disrupted by a knee bruise that occurred 10 days ago.
"He hasn't had a mental error the entire camp, which is rare. I've never in my 16 years in the league seen that happen. He's sharp. It's his background."
Bell has a chance to become the first rookie to win the starting job since Bam Morris started six games in 1994.The Steelers do not want another halfback-by-committee that injuries forced on them in 2012.
"Nobody wants that, not your players, not a coach," Wilson said. "You want your guy out there all the time. Hopefully, we'll develop somebody like that."
Quick hits
• Wilson liked how Jonathan Dwyer ran Saturday night, but he would like to see him handle the ball better as a receiver.
"He had only one carry we all disagreed with his decision with the ball. We'd like to have seen him make a couple plays in the passing game when he touched the ball, and that didn't happen. But he's a capable receiver, and we expect him to perform a little bit better in that area."
• Wilson and Butler said special-teams coach Danny Smith could decide who the final roster spots go to in the backfield and at linebacker, and maybe wide receiver and defensive back.
"Your backup guys have to be great special-teams players," Butler said. "It will come down to who Danny Smith likes because the competition will be that close."
Said Wilson, "That's the key for a lot of them. Your competition is not really in my room, it's the extra DBs, the extra linebackers. We have some young linebackers who can hit and run, so it's going to be pretty competitive here the next few weeks."
For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at Ed Bouchette: and Twitter @EdBouchette.
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