His position coach is only cautiously optimistic that Jones will be able to make it back from the dislocated wrist the second-year man sustained in the Steelers’ 37-19 win at Carolina on Sept. 21.
“I hope he can, but we’ll see,” Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler told ESPN.com. “A linebacker’s got to be able to use his hands. If he can’t use his hands, he can’t play. He’s defenseless, and we’re not going to put him on the field if he’s defenseless so we’ll see.”
Jones has been working out and attending Steelers’ practices and meetings. The 2013 first-round pick has 21 days to play in a game after the Steelers activate him.
“We’ll find out when he comes back and see how he can use the hands, how much it’s going to affect his wrist and the scar tissue in his wrist,” Butler said. “Jarvis was really coming on.”
Jones started the first four games at right outside linebacker and recorded two sacks before getting hurt against the Panthers.
The Steelers coaxed James Harrison out of retirement shortly after Jones went down, and Harrison has four sacks and nine quarterback pressures in seven games. Harrison started in place of Arthur Moats at right outside linebacker last Monday night, and the 36-year-old has played more snaps as he has dropped weight and worked himself into optimum football shape.
Jones peppers Harrison with questions when the two are on the practice field and in meetings, and the 6-foot-2, 245-pounder said he has no problem playing behind the five-time Pro Bowler if he is able to return this season.
“James is having a terrific season right now,” Jones said. “He brought a lot of energy. He’s playing well, he’s making plays and whenever I get back whatever the coaches decide, they decide. It’s just going to make [the defense] that much better.”