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April 30, 2013

Jones has a comfy job that demands results eventually

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Landry Jones is now a professional football player after his record breaking four-year career at Oklahoma.

That he wasn’t a first-round draft pick, as many insinuated throughout his career, wasn’t a shock.

Jones selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round is really good for the now former OU quarterback’s longevity in the NFL, although it’s not great for Jones’ hopes for making an immediate impact in the league.

Jones becomes the third string quarterback in Pittsburgh behind Ben Roethlisberger and seven-year NFL veteran Bruce Gradkowski.

Jones’ pick wasn’t a home run for Steelers fans from the standpoint a lot of people wanted a pick in the fourth round that was more of an immediate impact on the team.

But the Steelers needed to get younger at the quarterback position. Roethlisberger is 31 years old and he’s probably got just five years left in his prime.

And he’s also been prone to injuries the last couple of years.

“We’ve had great experience in that (backup) role with Charlie (Batch) and Byron (Leftwich),” said Steelers quarterback coach Randy Fitchner. “It was just time to start grooming a young player, to freshen up the room if you will.

“Landry’s a very productive player. He’s been a four-year starter. He played big football. He has probably the biggest production I’ve seen out of a quarterback in several years. He’s a guy that still has upside.”

Jones essentially passed the interview process. He was hired.

He just isn’t being handed the keys to a franchise like Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez or Brandon Weeden.

He’s not starting in the mailroom. It’s more like the junior executive level for Jones.

“At the end of the day, this is going to be a great opportunity for me whether I play quick or whether I have to sit and wait for a couple of years,” said Jones. “Getting to sit behind Ben Roethlisberger is going to be a huge opportunity for me.

“He’s a guy that’s been established in this league for a long time and I can learn from one of the best quarterbacks to play the game. I’m just really, really excited to get to work with him. I’m just really excited about this opportunity.”

Jones’ will be tasked with becoming a backup quarterback in the NFL. That can be a nice job to have in life. Jones’ challenge will be to make sure he’s ready when called upon.

If Roethlisberger has a Peyton Manning moment, Jones has to be ready to go. Jones has to prove he’s better than a Curtis Painter or a Ben Orlovsky, two QBs who failed miserably after Manning’s neck injury ratted out two terrible backup QBs.

But Jones has been in this position before. He was there to trot on the field in 2009 when Sam Bradford went down in the season opener against BYU.

He’ll just be expected to play at a higher level than he did that day. Which will be the biggest challenge of Jones’ career up to this point.

“it’s not a disappointment at all. It’s really not,” said Jones of being drafted into a franchise with one of the league’s best quarterbacks. “I was just happy to get picked up. You have to start your career somewhere.

“On every single team, there’s going to be a quarterback that has your job. You’re going to go out there and be respectful and you’re going to do all these things and you are going to compete as hard as you can.”

Jones NFL career will likely rest on how he responds when he goes out on the field for the first time.

That’s the downside of his position. He’s not being handed the keys to the castle.

He’s won’t be allowed growing pains if Roethlisberger goes down in a couple of years.

“Ever since you were a young kid, you do see yourself winning Super Bowls. You see yourself doing all these different things in the NFL,” said Jones. “I’m just excited about getting in there and having an opportunity.”

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