The Pittsburgh Steelers currently find themselves in a bit of a bind at outside linebacker—particularly when it comes to depth. With both James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley now a thing of the past, the team is turning to Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones to start. Which is a problem, because Worilds has been the depth chart for the past four seasons.
The only pure outside linebacker with any experience on the roster behind the starters is fourth-year veteran Chris Carter, who has yet to show much of anything. Due to the lack of talent there, however, he figures to find his way onto the roster by default once again.
The Steelers also signed Arthur Moats during free agency, who can play both inside and outside. He may be better suited to the inside, but the numbers currently dictate that the team focuses on honing his outside abilities.
Maybe it’s about time for another undrafted free agent outside linebacker to make an impact. Could Howard Jones continue a trend of recent years?
In 2012, undrafted free agent Adrian Robinson impressed enough during the preseason that the Steelers carried him on the roster as the ninth linebacker for the entire duration of the season.
He performed well enough that the team was able to trade him for running back Felix Jones last year, who made the roster.
Last season, it was Alan Baxter who excelled during the preseason, bringing more pressure than any other Steelers player through the four exhibition games.
The Steelers had just drafted two linebackers, however, and they preferred Terence Garvin for both his special teams play and inside-outside versatility.
Baxter spent the first five weeks of the season on the practice squad before being released. As of a few days ago, he is a free agent now, although there are no reports that the team has expressed any interest in bringing him back.
Now it’s Jones’ chance to crack the roster as an undrafted free agent, which has been a bit easier to accomplish in recent years with the number of holes on the team.
According to Mike Prisuta, Howard “was a priority free agent. The Steelers had to talk him into it a little bit, so he might turn out to be something”.
Bob Labriola went on, pointing out the chip on his shoulder:
“I asked him today why he chose the Steelers after the draft, and he said that the other teams that were interested in him as an undrafted rookie, he said they all told me they would draft him. They didn’t, so he picked the Steelers”.