In Steeler Nation, what many thought would eventually happen could become a reality very soon. Going into Week 2 of the regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones has been promoted to co-starter along with fellow linebacker Jason Worilds.
Jones clearly stood out in comparison to Worilds during the preseason, making big play after big play. The 17th overall pick tallied only two tackles in last week’s loss to the Tennessee Titans, but both of those tackles were behind the line of scrimmage.
Jones and Worilds both rotated during Pittsburgh’s defensive series against the Titans, with Worilds playing 46 snaps, while Jones found himself on the field for 30.
Bringing down ball carriers in the backfield is one thing that Jones led the nation in during his final year at the University of Georgia, and is one of the reasons why he’s been bumped up the depth chart. In addition to penetrating the opposition’s offensive line, Jones also has a knack for causing turnovers, something the Steelers lacked in 2012.
As great as an opportunity this is for Jones, it’s a not-so-great sign for Worilds. The four-year veteran is currently in a contract year, and is in desperate need of having a big season so that Pittsburgh would consider re-signing him, or so that another team will pursue him as an unrestricted free agent in 2014. The chance of completely losing his starting job to a rookie could mark the beginning of the end for Worilds.
However, as of right now, Worilds still has the label of “starter,” albeit it’s being shared with someone else. Even if Worilds is on the field for the Steelers’ first defensive play of the game, there is a good chance that the number of snaps we saw for these two players in Week 1 could be flip-flopped this Monday night.
And as the season goes on, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the number of snaps between the two get more and more lopsided in favor of Jones.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+