Troy Polamalu likes to tell rookie Jarvis Jones that in his rookie year of 2003, "I should've been the league MVP."
Of course, Polamalu was admittedly lost during a rookie season in which he didn't start a game
and was dubbed a bust by fans and media.
Jones needs those kinds of pep talks. This year's first-round draft pick hasn't recorded a sack or forced a turnover and has only four quarterback pressures. He was demoted from his starting right OLB spot two weeks ago, but continues to receive plenty of action because his coordinator believes in him.
"As I said last week, I don’t think he is any further ahead nor behind any first-year, high-level draft choice or player that came on to play at a very high level of success for us," said Dick LeBeau. "You will be talking about that young man for some time to come. He has a lot of skill.
He is going to continue to grow. That’s how I see it."
Jones would love to get his career rolling today with a sack against his old college teammate, Buffalo Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn, who left Georgia a year before Jones and became the Bills' starting left tackle in the opener of his rookie season.
The 6-6, 345-pounder allowed six quarteback sacks as a rookie, but only one through nine games this season.
"We went against each other all the time in practice, but I was just converting to outside
linebacker," said Jones. "I did all right, he did all right. He made some things happen. I definitely learned from him."
Glenn was considered a guard coming out of college, but Jones said Glenn's quicker than he
"Cordy big but he ain't no swap meet, now," Jones said. "I mean, I think he brings sub-4.8
(speed). He's a big athletic dude who can move. It's going to be pretty interesting."
Would getting his first career sack against an old teammate make it sweeter for Jones?
"I don't care who I get it on, I just need it," Jones said. "I just need them to start pouring in. I need some production from somewhere, you know?"
BEACHUM A BAND-AID?
The Steelers' left tackle is also a second-year player, but Kelvin Beachum didn't start at his current position until the fifth game this season. Pro Football Focus credits Beachum with having allowed four sacks and 13 quarterback pressures in his four games at left tackle.
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley was asked if Beachum, last year's seventh-round pick,
is the long-term answer.
"He’s our left tackle now," Haley said. "It's an opportunity to get in there and start at a position. We’ve heard all the stories, guys have stayed there for years and years and years. It’s his position and we’ll see what he does with it. He’s risen to the challenge in most jobs he’s been given and he’s been a very good weapon or luxury for us, so to speak, in that you’ve got a
lineman that can play tight end, tackle, guard and center.
"We’ll see what he does with it. I know he’s working hard and he enjoys the challenge. This will be a test this week."
Mario Williams, with his 11 sacks, will be Beachum's test today.
LE'VEON vs. SWEETNESS
Early in the season it was reported here how the early struggles of Steelers rookie running back Le'Veon Bell have paralleled those of Walter Payton, whom many consider the greatest running back of all time.
Here's an update of that comparison through the first five games of each career:
Bell -- 80 carries, 282 yards, 3.5 yards per carry.
Payton -- 67 carries, 200 yards, 3.0 yards per carry.
The Bears' running back gained only 26 yards in his sixth game, and Bell has a difficult
assignment as well in the Bills.
"They’ve got special players up front that like to pass rush," Bell said. "We’ve got to make sure we start quick to keep those guys balanced. Then we don’t have to pass the ball all the time and have those guys pinning their ears back to come get the quarterback. We’ve got to make sure we stay balanced on offense and start quick. That’s the biggest key for us right now."
SPENCE STARTING OVER
The Steelers are being lambasted for their drafts the past five years, but six of those picks are starting on other teams, and a seventh, Sean Spence, tore up his knee last year as a rookie.
Spence was put on injured reserve this week and his comeback has been put on hold. A broken
ring finger suffered during his first week back to practice didn't help his bid to be placed on the roster.
Here are some of his comments:
* "Things happen for a reason. I am not here to question it. I am just going to continue to work hard. I am looking forward to next year."
* "I got (the finger) caught, I think it was on a facemask. First day back I got it caught. I thought I just jammed it. But I went to the trainers and they said I broke it."
* "I am going to get better and continue to learn, as I have been doing. I will continue to watch film with the guys. I’ll continue to strengthen my knee. I will keep my conditioning up, do cardio, and go from there."
* "I felt real good for being out of football for 14 months and missing OTAs, training camp and
preseason, and then to jump right back into practice, I felt at home. I felt comfortable with a lot of my movements. It gave me a lot of confidence heading into next year."
ALMOST CUT MY HAIR
Polamalu was asked about the alleged Miami bullying incident in a rather odd way: He was asked if he would've cut his hair as a rookie had the Steelers, or presumably a bully, had requested.
"When I came here I was scared that would happen," Polamalu said. "I mean, I would've done it, but thank God I wasn't drafted anywhere else but here."