Last Friday the Pittsburgh Steelers traded for running back Felix Jones, and he wound up leading the team in rushing with 29 yards on eight carries against the Kansas City Chiefs with limited preparation time. While many saw his addition as a mere insurance policy, head coach Mike Tomlin apparently liked what he saw out of the former first-round draft pick Saturday night and views him as more than just a stop-gap addition to the team.
“Tonight will be a big opportunity for him to state his case, but make no mistake, what he did last week against the Chiefs was pretty impressive,” Tomlin told Bill Hillgrove during his weekly pregame sit-down. “This is a guy who had zero practices. He had a hotel ballroom walk-through, and he showed up and contributed positively to our efforts. We know his pedigree, and he’s not new to the National Football League. We’re excited about seeing what he can do for us.”
Jones figures to get a lot of work against the Carolina Panthers Thursday night with both Isaac Redman and Le’Veon Bell already ruled out for the game, and he has now had a full week to digest the play book. He is more than likely competing head-to-head against Jonathan Dwyer for a spot on the final 53 man roster, so it will be interesting to watch the two state their cases in this game.
Jones is a much better receiver out of the backfield than Dwyer is, and I suspect he will be targeted a few times against the Panthers in the passing game as he was not used in that capacity last week. In addition, Jones will also likely get a chance to return another kickoff or two after returning two Saturday night for 51 yards.