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Old 05-19-2014, 05:10 AM   #1
Galax Steeler
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Default Steelers look to be intrigued by athleticism of free agent Jones

By Alan Robinson

Published: Sunday, May 18, 2014, 9:54 p.m.
Updated 6 hours ago

If a player's performance at the NFL Combine was the only criteria for draft selection, Howard Jones probably would have been a first-round pick.

The first player from Division II Shepherd chosen for the combine, Jones put up the third-best 40 time (4.60) among defensive linemen, had the best vertical jump (40½ inches) and was second in the broad jump (124 inches).

The 6-foot-2½ Jones displayed so much athleticism at the 330-player combine, which features some of the top athletes in America, he immediately was projected as a mid- to late-round draft pick.

“I thought I'd go to the Cowboys or Miami or Arizona,” Jones said. “I heard fourth round (on).”

Despite getting draft-day calls from the Browns and Cowboys, Jones wasn't selected. He ended up signing with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent after they outbid the Cardinals.

Jones was as surprised as anyone. The Steelers had talked to him only briefly at the combine, and other teams showed more interest.

“I know they pass rush tough here. They love pass rushing, so I definitely had to choose the Steelers,” Jones said. “They've always had pass-rushing linebackers, quick linebackers, and I definitely feel I can fit in the role.”

The Steelers have had success with athletic players who weren't drafted — James Harrison and Willie Parker among them — and Jones is hoping to be their latest success story.

Jones likely wasn't drafted because of his level of college competition, his age (24) and the fact he's a very rough-around-the-edges pass rusher who will require considerable coaching and patience.

Also, he'll be a linebacker in the NFL and not a down lineman as he was at the combine and in college.

“I know I need to work on my knowledge of the game,” Jones said during the three-day Steelers rookie minicamp, which ended Sunday.

Still, considering he didn't require investing a draft pick or much money, Jones is an intriguing pickup for a team that is attempting to get younger, faster and more athletic on defense.

A wide receiver at Freedom High School in Woodbridge, Va., Jones was contacted by Virginia and Virginia Tech but didn't qualify academically. After sitting out a year, he ended up at Shepherd, a 4,400-student school located about three hours from Pittsburgh in West Virginia's eastern panhandle.

“I wanted to go to the smallest school that recruited me,” Jones said of Shepherd, which hasn't had an NFL draft pick since 1979.

He lifted weights while redshirting for another year and, as his weight increased from 197 to 235, he was shifted to the defensive line, though he was fast enough to be a gunner on special teams.

A finalist for Division II defensive player of the year last season, Jones ended his Shepherd career with 34½ sacks, 71 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles and four blocked kicks.

Jones already knows what the Steelers want him to do: be a pass-rushing specialist and special teams player.

“I definitely feel I can fit in that role,” he said. “(It's not Division II), but it's still football to me and I've been playing it since I was 5, 6 years old. It's still the same game to me.”

While he has much to learn, and there is much to his game that needs polishing, Jones doesn't feel overwhelmed.

“It's matchup against matchup,” he said. “It's not that someone else is that much better than the other guys — everyone is good — (but that) you've got to step up to the plate.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/steelers/...#ixzz329Q4nHdj
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Old 05-19-2014, 01:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers look to be intrigued by athleticism of free agent Jones

Get him to the practice squad!! Kind of small (235Lbs) for OLB, not sure he has the frame to put on another 15 lbs, so might be a liability in the run game, but could develop and be a situational pass rusher and special teamer.
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Old 05-19-2014, 02:12 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers look to be intrigued by athleticism of free agent Jones

he is long and lean...so there is potential for mass. a year or two on the practice squad and before you know it he is a 250lb wrecking machine!
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Old 05-19-2014, 05:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers look to be intrigued by athleticism of free agent Jones

One can hope. But he might have maxed out.

I am surprised nthat they look at these guys and a guy like Zumwalt in the outside at 235. Changing times.
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Old 05-19-2014, 06:29 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers look to be intrigued by athleticism of free agent Jones

Quote:
Originally Posted by dreegking View Post
One can hope. But he might have maxed out.

I am surprised nthat they look at these guys and a guy like Zumwalt in the outside at 235. Changing times.
Zumwalt is 6'4" 235lbs. He can probably stand to put more muscle on the frame and play outside at 250lbs. Jones at 6'2" might also, but looking at him he doesn't look to be a guy with a thick frame that can add a lot more weight.

Zumwalt might be a Tully Banta Cain type guy with motor at OLB, who excelled in the Pac 10. Jones is a freak athlete that needs to get bigger to combat O linemen
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Old 05-19-2014, 06:35 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers look to be intrigued by athleticism of free agent Jones

if their fast and can tackle try them out.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:19 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers look to be intrigued by athleticism of free agent Jones

My prediction is that he makes the team! If he has a solid preseason they will have to give him a roster spot bc every year teams pick up some Steelers extras. I hope he gets ahead of Carter on the depth chart. I am from WV and think that he could be a tough special teamer. He will make the team because of how he performs on special teams.
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Old 08-11-2014, 01:27 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers look to be intrigued by athleticism of free agent Jones

Howard Jones setting himself up to make Pittsburgh Steelers' 53 man roster

By Jeff.Hartman on Aug 10 2014

The linebacker from unknown Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV very well could be setting himself up to make the Steelers' 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie free agent.

I'm sure many of you watching the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants play an exhibition game on Saturday night saw some splash plays by a player wearing jersey number 34 for the Steelers.

You immediately found the BTSC depth chart with jersey numbers to see the player that recovered two fumbles, and ran one back for a touchdown was Howard Jones from Shepherd University, a Division II school in the Eastern panhandle of West Virginia.

Shepherd University is not a hot bed for football players, I would know that is my alma mater, but Jones has been on the radar of the NFL for a few years while playing in the Division II ranks, and is a large part why he was given an invitation to the NFL combine this past year.

Expected to be selected in the late rounds of the draft, Jones went undrafted, but found a home with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Considered a long shot to make the 53 man roster, that all could have changed on Saturday night. Jones was opportunistic and made plays, something the Steelers desperately missed in 2013. Where did he make the plays? On special teams.

Jones has the speed and athleticism to be a special teams ace for the Steelers, and also the raw talent to be a backup at the linebacker position. Just another versatile player that the Steelers found among the island of misfits also known as the NFL undrafted rookie free agents.

Jones has turned heads after the first preseason game and is setting himself up for a spot on the Steelers' 53 man roster. Whether he takes that roster spot will largely be in part of his play in the final three preseason games on the schedule.

If Jones is able to complete this feat, then he certainly could be a difference maker one way or another on this 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers team.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com...teelers-53-man
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Old 08-11-2014, 11:33 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers look to be intrigued by athleticism of free agent Jones

*splash*
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Old 08-12-2014, 01:16 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers look to be intrigued by athleticism of free agent Jones

Steelers picking up a bunch of 4-3 LBs?
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