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Jarvis Jones embraces his new mentor

PITTSBURGH -- Jarvis Jones has yet to see the side of Joey Porter that helped make the latter a fan favorite in Pittsburgh and a leader in the Steelers' locker room.

"The crazy cussing and stuff like that he hasn't done that yet but you can tell his intensity, his passion for the game," Jones said. "He's more hands on than just talking to us and trying to show us how to do it."

Porter, who joined Mike Tomlin's staff as a defensive assistant in February, figures to be more hands on with Jones than any other player.

Jones plays right outside linebacker, the position where Porter racked up 60 1/2 sacks in eight seasons in Pittsburgh, and the Steelers need the 2013 first-round draft pick to make significant improvement in his second NFL season.

Porter's tutelage -- as well as having spent a full year immersed in the Steelers' defense -- should help Jones after a rookie season in which he started eight games but managed just one sack.

One thing Jones didn't do in preparation for his second season is get bigger.

"I'm pretty much the same, 245 (pounds)," the 6-2 Jones said following the Steelers' first full-squad offseason practice. "That's where (the coaches) want me to play at. I really don't want to get much bigger. My whole thing is about getting stronger and being able to play with leverage and the right technique so that's what I've been focusing on."

Jones trained in Atlanta for three months with former Georgia teammate and current Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston. He said he has gotten stronger while staying at a weight that won't compromise his speed.

What will make Jones play faster than anything is his familiarity with the Steelers' defense after struggling to learn it on the job in 2013.

"It's not night and day," Jones said of the difference between last year and this year as far as knowing the defense, "but it's a whole lot better actually knowing what's going on. I'm not out there second-guessing myself. I can line myself up as far as coming out and looking at the formation."

The Steelers hope that having those basics down and Porter teaching him the finer points of playing outside linebacker will translate into a breakout season for Jones, the 17th overall pick of the 2013 draft.

"It's a blessing to have somebody here mentoring us that actually played here and played the same position," Jones said. "He's got the mindset of a baller. He knows what it takes to be great. He pushes me every day."

Does that mean Jones will play with the kind of fire and swagger that defined Porter's career?

"I'm more quiet," Jones said with a smile, "but he'll probably rub off on me though."

The Steelers are counting on it.