PHILADELPHIA — Jamir Jones has waited a long time for his second chance.
The former Notre Dame linebacker signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent last spring and went to camp with that team, but was released on Aug. 10.
Jones wasn’t able to catch on with another NFL team in 2020 and didn’t sign during the usual post-season signing period for reserve/future contracts. It was nearly one year after he first turned pro that Jones caught on with the Steelers, signing in Pittsburgh on April 7.
He’s making the most of his second chance.
Jones turned in a second straight strong performance in the Steelers’ second preseason game of 2021 on Thursday in Philadelphia.
Against the Eagles, he had two tackles, one for a loss, one sack and a hurry that forced an interception. Added to his one tackle for loss and three hurries against the Dallas Cowboys, and it adds up to a very strong presence through two games for the first-year outside linebacker.
“It’s a big blessing,” Jones said. “Last year around this time, I was sitting at home just waiting for a call. I just stayed at it, just put my trust in God and myself and my abilities, and knew that one day this time would come. Just kept working, put my head down, and I was ready.”
Jones faces a tough path to the 53-man roster, with veterans Melvin Ingram, Alex Highsmith, Cassius Marsh and T.J. Watt and sixth-round rookie Quincy Roche currently ahead of him on the depth chart.
But he also realizes that this preseason performance is not just about trying to make the Steelers.
“Everything that I put out on film is being evaluated by all 32 teams,” he said, and those veterans have been telling him to enjoy the process. “At the end of the day, it’s football. I’ve been playing it since I was five years old.”
For someone that faced the very real prospect of the end of his football life a year ago, it’s probably pretty easy for Jones to enjoy himself. Especially with the way he’s been playing.