Jones Practices as First-Team ROLB

Jarvis Jones (Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Jarvis Jones practiced as the first-team, blind-side pass rusher for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and is hoping to join the illustrious tradition. Full post-practice interview:

PITTSBURGH -- Jarvis Jones didn't want to come right out and say he'll start Monday night in Cincinnati, but the Steelers' first-round draft pick did say "It's a good possibility."

Jones confirmed that he took the first-team reps at right outside linebacker for the Steelers at Wednesday's practice, and then he crossed his fingers.

"Well," Jones said with a pause, "it's still early in the week."

Free safety Ryan Clark sees it coming, whether it's this week or soon thereafter.

"It seems like that," Clark said. "From what I'm seeing he's getting a few more reps at practice.

"I try to be as diplomatic about certain things as I can," Clark added. "But he's a first-round draft pick. He's an extremely talented guy. He flashes when he gets on the field. When you do that, they're going to give you more opportunities to show what you can do. I think we'll just see the progression of where he's going, starting this week."

Jones "flashed" most brightly when he blew up Chris Johnson in the backfield last Sunday after Jones was unblocked at the line. Jones had another tackle-for-loss in the game, and also made a tackle on special teams.

"It was an OK start," he said. "There were definitely a lot of plays out there I wish I could've made that would've definitely been game-changing. But you gain the experience and learn from it and try to eliminate those mistakes in the future."

Jones is a laid-back rookie who likes to believe he has "an old soul." To that end his hero is Bob Marley, the late, great and laid-back reggae star with a distinct peace-and-love credo.

But on the field, Jones has no peace or love. "When you're on the field, that's life or death," he said. "That's job or no-job. So I've got to come out of my personality and do work. When I'm on that field, I'm just so passionate about this game. It just brings everything out of me."

Jones wanted to get on the field so badly that he volunteered his services as Larry Foote's replacement inside. The Steelers' coaches told him to stay outside, take first-team reps in practice, and maybe, just maybe, he would find himself running first team in his second pro game.

"I played inside linebacker in high school and at USC," Jones said. "I started off at Georgia inside until they moved me outside. So I played around with (Steelers coaches). I asked them about it. But it's not happening. It would be fun, but I love outside linebacker. I like wearing my 9-5 outside, man. I can't change."

Jones is wearing the same No. 95 worn by Greg Lloyd, the fearsome leader and ROLB of the "Blitzburgh" defenses of the 1990s.

When Joey Porter came along in 1999 -- a year after Lloyd's departure -- he was handed No. 95, but turned it down.

Jones said he had no problem whatsoever taking Lloyd's old number, but that it would've been different had he been handed James Harrison's No. 92.

"I would've said no," Jones said. "I would've said no because it'd be crazy, because now the fans are looking, 'Oh, he's the next James Harrison.' That's not me. But Greg was here long before I thought about playing football. He went to school 45 minutes from Columbus (Ga.), where I'm from. He's a guy from Georgia and a great linebacker, so why not?

"It's a great challenge for me. It's a great way to show love to the guys who paved the world for us and to just give back and continue the tradition. Hopefully I can wear his number and make him proud and maybe somebody comes along behind me some day."

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