Jones Healthy; Beachum Still TE

Jarvis Jones believes his rotation at OLB is over. And even though the Steelers kept 5 TEs, Kelvin Beachum's still working there. Plus, a Q&A with Brett Keisel.

PITTSBURGH -- Causing turnovers last season caused Cortez Allen to ascend to a starting position this season.

But the same equation apparently isn't working for first-round draft pick Jarvis Jones, at least for now, because in all likelihood Jones will open the season on the bench behind Jason Worilds.

Jones, the outside linebacker who recovered a fumble in the preseason opener, caused a fumble in the second game, and had an interception overturned by a Josh Victorian pass-interference penalty in his third and final preseason game, believes his rotation with the two starting OLBs has come to an end.

"Nah, I was with the second group (Monday)," said Jones, who said he only relieved Worilds for one play with the first team.

LaMarr Woodley, the starting left OLB who had been part of the three-man rotation throughout training camp and preseason, said that Jones' lone rep with the first team meant nothing.

"That was only preseason," Woodley said of the rotation. "You've got to wait till the season. You can't go by something you saw in preseason. ... No. You'll see. No. That was only preseason."

Jones says he's physically able when called upon. His health had been in question after he sat out the fourth preseason game with what Steelers coach Mike Tomlin called "an AC sprain in the chest."

Jones was injured while being tackled at the end of his interception return against Kansas City.

"The way he tackled me, he got me from behind and I couldn't move my arms," said Jones. "I had the ball and when he tackled me I couldn't move so I couldn't brace myself and I ended up falling on the ball and bruising my chest."

Jones said he's healthy and ready to play in Sunday's opener. And the Steelers could use his knack for causing turnovers, even if it's only in spot duty or on special teams. Jones caused several fumbles during camp practices with his ability to tackle and simultaneously dig for the ball. He led Georgia with 7 forced fumbles in 12 starts last season, and forced 2 fumbles the previous season.

"The game is about the football. You get the football out," Jones said. "The team with the football wins."

Asked to assess his first NFL preseason, Jones said, "I did OK. I definitely learned a lot. I see the things I need to improve on, so I'll build off that. I could've done a lot more as far as playmaking ability. I don't think I did bad. I think I did as well as the defense. I've just gotta continue to build off of that."


* Heath Miller has been activated off the PUP list, but, as with Rashard Mendenhall last season, Miller may not play for another month as he completes his re-hab of his torn ACL.

* Matt Spaeth, the blocking tight end with the LisFranc injury, will be put on revocable-IR at 4 p.m. today and won't be able to return to the active roster until the day after the eighth weekend of the season, at the earliest.

* David Paulson, the move tight end, may have to brush up on his fullback responsibilities if Will Johnson can't get past his minor hamstring injury this week.

* David Johnson is still limited as his knee rebounds from pre-2012 ACL surgery and a subsequent follow-up surgery at the onset of this year's camp.

* Michael Palmer, whom a source said impressed the Steelers with his in-line blocking not only during this preseason but also last year when he played opposite receiving TE Tony Gonzalez for the Atlanta Falcons, is still learning the playbook.

So, for such an unusually large group, the tight ends remain beat up and spread perhaps a bit too thin.

But there's no need to fear, Underdog is here. And his name is Kelvin Beachum, the second-year tackle who played a full dose of tight end in the first half of the third preseason game.

When a reporter remarked Monday to Beachum that he thought Beachum performed well at his new task, Beachum said, "I guess they did, too, because I'll be playing it a lot this week."

Beachum, the No. 1 reserve at most OL positions, said he doesn't mind.

"Whatever it takes for us to win," Beachum said. "We've got a good dose of tight ends, but we'll see."

"We're trying to figure out a way to get all six tight ends on the field," Miller said with a chuckle. "I really don't know what that says about us."


For the second consecutive season, Brett Keisel has been named a team captain, an honor befitting the locker room's most elder statesman.

Here's what Keisel had to say about the team and its chemistry at the dawn of the 2013 opener:

Q: Has there been a different approach by Tomlin and the coaches this off-season?

BK: "I think it's more just attention to the little things, like around the locker room, like making sure we're all in meetings early. No one's dragging into meetings, no one's dragging out to practice. We just want a sense of urgency with things and attention to detail; just a pro's perspective, really. When you're around here, in the locker room, be a pro in everything you do, whether that's film study or walk-through or whatever. Don't let anything get downgraded because maybe you're not at full speed or something like that. Just focus and pay attention to everything."

Q: Did you agree with the talk about dissension last year?

BK: "No. (pause) No. (pause) No, I think when you lose close games, games we're used to winning, people start asking 'What's going on?' But I never felt like that our locker room was divided or anything like that. I've always felt that's been a strong suit of ours, the locker room, the brotherhood. I'll continue to stick with that."

Q: It seemed as if the coaches shipped out some guys with losing personalities, or represented losing in some way, and brought in some rookies -- and veterans -- with enthusiastic and winning personalities. Do you agree?

BK: "Well, I just think the biggest thing everything in here needs to have is a focus on not 'What do we need to do to make me better?' But rather, 'What do I need to do to make the team better?' To put the team first. If we can do that collectively, then we'll be a good team."

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