Steelers: Jones won't be 'given' starting LB job
Jarvis Jones evidently will have to battle for a starting job with the linebacker-thin Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jones, a pass-rushing outside linebacker, was selected by the Steelers with the 17th overall pick in last weekend's NFL draft and likely will have a chance to replace James Harrison, who was cut by Pittsburgh after refusing to take a pay cut.
But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and linebackers coach Kevin Butler both stopped short of tabbing Jones as a starter.
"I think it's a daunting task for rookies to start in any system and play and perform well," Tomlin told multiple media outlets. "Obviously it is difficult when you have established veteran players like we have with a lot of continuity. We are not going to close the door on [Jones] or anyone else on earning an opportunity, and that is what this is about -- people taking advantage of opportunities. So he'll be given that."
Jones, who recorded 14.5 sacks at Georgia last season, is expected to compete with Jason Worilds for a starting spot at outside linebacker.
Butler was extremely complimentary of Jones, saying the rookie linebacker has "a wealth of talent."
"He's been very productive. He's going to come in and compete, but he's not going to be given the position," Butler said. "Jason Worilds is here. He's the next guy up since [Harrison] has left, and I expect Jason to be better than he ever has been."
Jones had been projected to be a top-five talent but he dropped to the bottom half of the first round because of a disappointing pro day and medical concerns. He was diagnosed with stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal cord, early in his college career.
Information from ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley was used in this report.
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