Rookies Should See Uncommon Amount Of Work On Defense Tonight

By Matthew Marczi

The Pittsburgh Steelers appear poised to get more use out of their defensive rookies than they have in a long time tonight as they take on James Harrison and the Cincinnati Bengals. One of those young defensive players will be Harrison’s replacement, and the team’s first draft selection this year, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.

There have been reports that Jarvis Jones will indeed be starting tonight over fourth-year veteran Jason Worilds, who started the week before in the loss to the Tennessee Titans. Should that indeed be the case, then you can expect his snap count to rise considerably from the 30 snaps that he logged in Week One.

Worilds played 46 of the defense’s snaps 68 snaps, but you can expect that to decline considerably as well with Jones starting. The Steelers likely will continue to rotate their inside linebackers, but it will now presumably be Worilds on the shallow end of the snap counter rather than Jones.

The Steelers may even break out a three outside linebacker look, which had been mentioned a time or two during the preseason as a special sub package, likely in blitzing situations. Jarvis Jones in particular is strong as an interior blitzer, and with Larry Foote being replaced by Kion Wilson after his season-ending injury, the Steelers may be looking for ways to keep Wilson on the sidelines due to his inexperience, as they once did with Stevenson Sylvester in 2011.

Another rookie is also poised to see a lot of playing time on defense as well, as safety Shamarko Thomas is now, for the time being, the slot corner for the Steelers with Cortez Allen out of the lineup due to an ankle injury. The injury forces William Gay into the starting lineup, and with Curtis Brown also likely out, there are not a lot of options.

Thomas already played 10 snaps on defense last week when Allen left the game with his injury, and he figures to double that if not more during this game. If he performs well, he could force himself into a rotation with Gay as the nickel based on the situation for the remainder of the season.

Yet another defensive rookie, Vince Williams, could see some time on defense as well, especially if Wilson should struggle. He spent his first game in the league on the inactive list due to the evident belief of the coaching staff that Terence Garvin is a bigger asset on special teams than Williams.

I first thought that Williams may be the first choice to replace Foote, and that Wilson only replaced him after he was injured because Williams was inactive, but he appears poised to start this week, and perhaps for the rest of the season as well, unless Williams wrestles that position away from him at some point during the year.

Still, he could see time on defense tonight, especially in passing situations of intermediate distance. The Bengals have a lot of targets with size, and it may require a linebacker with speed to match up.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Luke Shabro

    Is Isaiah Green coming up? I’m not celebrating Curtis Brown’s injury but I don’t really want to see him in there so I’m happy he’ll be out. I want to see Williams lined up on either Eifert or Gresham.

  • kev4heels

    with whitworth probably out for the game, jarvis jones needs to get pressure. anthony collins will probably be starting in his place. collins is not bad at all, but jones should get some splash plays IMO.

  • Ken

    I’m afraid that the Bengals receivers are going to be wide open all night… Do you roll the dice and blitz a lot or kept the safeties back and try to help coverage?
    I guess you blitz the youngsters who probably get lost in coverage anyway…

  • Luke Shabro

    Keep Ike on Green. Blitz Gay. Put Isaiah Green on Mohammad Sanu (or other #2 WR), Put Williams on Eifert, Timmons on Gresham, Put Shark and Clark in the middle in run support. Blitz Troy. Rush McClendon, Woodley and Jones. This is probably a terrible scheme and that’s why I couldn’t even coach a Pee Wee flag football team lol. I’ll leave it to Keith Butler and Dick LeBeau

  • steeltown

    I sure hope they bring up Isaiah Green for this game… Suisham has been a full participant in practice this past week and unless there’s something we don’t know there is absolutely no reason to dress Suisham AND Graham

  • cencalsteeler

    Boy, am I hoping for a turnaround this week. The Pouncey injury did us in last week mentally. I sure hope the Steelers come into this game with some motivation and drive to turn this young season around. GO STEELERS!

  • cencalsteeler

    Blitz Shamarko!!!!

  • Gautama Om

    Well this is one of the drawbacks of not utilizing of your younger players. This day was coming when we would be forced to play the Inexperienced.

  • Dom

    They had 1 game of regular season so far? It’s not like they’d have years of experience

  • Shannon Stephenson

    The inability of the Steelers to draft well over the last several years has at a point where rookies now have to come in and play. I hope they are up to the job.

  • steeltown

    Uncommon for us, yes, but not that uncommon universally.. and lets be honest a few of these guys need the experience because there will be even more turnover in the upcoming offseason..might as well get their feet wet now, we’ll need them game ready

  • Callentown

    Shannon, I can’t help but think about how Sean Spence got hurt last year in pre-season. If he hadn’t, he very well could have been the starter at ILB already. Injuries are just killing the Steelers over the past few years.

  • Luke Shabro

    I just want to see Will Johnson run about 25 wheel routes please.

  • Luke Shabro

    I feel like they’ve done decent in the first round but in terms of depth it’s been abbhorent. It’s especially evident in the linebacking corps, the O line and the cornerback group.

  • bgsteelfan

    There is a cap hell element to that as well as an element that we failed to keep some backups over the years that we could have developed, but yes.

  • Bilgewater D

    Plenty of other teams play rookies and they play well. Why should we expect any different.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Injuries have played a role in this but just look at our depth, it is poor and the contracts we are paying guys that we normally let walk once they hit a certain age has been evident that our drafts have not been up to par IMO.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    We talk quite a bit on our Steeler blog site so we both have a good feel for that. No question that that has play in this as well.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I agree but it generally isn’t the norm for us so I guess when you see a rookie getting a lot of play time you get worried. I wish we would play some of our rookies more in certain situations just to get a little bit of playing time under their belts.

  • Luke Shabro

    I feel like that’s changed more recently, mostly due to injuries, but for the most part it’s worked out well

  • Steeler Wheeler

    That’s classic, LOL.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Exactly. I gotta believe that all running backs on next years roster have never played a down for the Steelers…and there’s only three LB and 2 CB worth keeping, and one of those might get cut anyway for cap reasons. Unfortunately, that whole O-Line is under contract, most of them very reasonable

  • cencalsteeler

    Ben needs to imagine Will and Cotch wearing jersey #83 tonight. He also needs to be aware of his back in the flat when he’s under pressure, too.

  • steeltown

    Which LBs are you referring to…only 3?

    If you’re referring to Le’Veon Bell and Felix Jones as the RBs on next years roster that haven’t yet played a down with the Steelers then I agree… or atleast I hope

  • Reese Dare

    That dude can catch. He’s a beast when he’s on the loose too. Give him the ball.