UNITY TWP., Pa. — Broderick Jones played a lot for his first NFL game on Friday against the Buccaneers. For Mike Tomlin and his staff, it was about getting Jones a long exposure so he could have a significant amount of tape to dissect over the next week. For the most part, the rookie left tackle rose to the challenge and played well. But, it is even better to first see the lessons from those film sessions parlay themselves onto the field in practice.
On Sunday, Broderick Jones had a chance to play some with the first team and other veterans. In the one-on-ones, the Steelers gave him a number of different tests, including rookie outside linebacker Nick Herbig. But Jones rose to the occasion in a momentous way, putting together the most complete day he has yet in Latrobe.
Jones first drew DeMarvin Leal. That is an interesting matchup considering Leal’s quickness and bend for a guy his size. On the first rep, Jones seemed to drift a little too much in his set and got wide his hands, allowing Leal to work back outside and swipe those paws down for the win. But I loved Jones’ response to this entire thing. Jones drifted slightly but expected Leal to cut back inside off his cross chop and drove him back to the South Side. The last rep Jones took by running Leal around and maintaining his footwork and hand integrity. He won this series of three in a great way.
Then, Herbig came up after calling Jones out. For the first two reps, Herbig tried a cross-chop-rip combination to the inside and then attempted his ghost move to the outside. Jones stunned both of them. There are few guys who can really match up with Herbig’s burst but Jones’s foot speed has that ability. He stayed patient and played with both his hands and his feet. The independent hands did him well today. Later on, Herbig did get him with the ghost move and I am not surprised by that. Jones played with his hands too low and Herbig dotted right under them by faking the rip and dip. The next attempt, though, would be a great rep by Jones, who would swat the hands of Herbig down on an attempted long arm.
Jones is starting to be more patient with his pass sets. He is not oversetting or letting his feet drift his sets off their spots. That is the first area of growth that is making it harder to defeat him. A straight-speed rush is tough because of his athleticism. Jones seems to be more on-time and in sync. He is not fully there yet, but man, from a growth perspective, Sunday is about as good as it gets for Jones at this point.