PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers could be without their two starting outside linebackers in Week 3 as T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith continue to nurse groin injuries. If neither can go, the team will turn to Melvin Ingram and Jamir Jones to take over edge-rushing duties against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"It's going to be tough, but hopefully, we can all work together to make that up," defensive captain Cam Heyward said. "To have those two pass rushers down will be hard to overcome but we got a team to do it."
While Ingram's resume leaves little room for worry - a three-time Pro Bowler who's contributed four quarterback hits, two tackles for loss and a sack in two games with the Steelers - Jones doesn't carry the same ground.
The second-year undrafted free agent didn't catch on with an NFL team last season. This summer, he beat out Cassius Marsh and sixth-round pick Quincy Roche to earn a roster spot in Pittsburgh.
This season, he's played just 16 defensive snaps, but could be thrust into a "hot AFC North kitchen" this Sunday.
"We're very comfortable with him," Ingram said on Jones. "There's a reason why he's here. We're very comfortable with him. He's a great player, and when he gets his opportunity, he's going to get the job done, for sure."
Jones is an unproven part of the Steelers defense, but the team saw something in the Notre Dame alum to feel confident in his play. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler says he carries many of the same traits all great pass-rushers do.
"He's got real good hands," Butler said. "Karl [Dunbar] has done a great job with him in terms of rushing and things like that. He does a great job in using his hands when rushing the passer, as all good pass-rushers do."
The Steelers came into the season with one of the highest-touted outside linebacker groups in the NFL. Three weeks into the campaign, they could be relying on the bottom of their depth chart, but no one in-house seems too worried about it.
"We've got players that can step up and play," Ingram said. "Whoever's suited up here, we'll still have a rotation and we're still going to get the job done."
You May Also Like: