Jones can help Steelers while Bell mends

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
12:23
PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- The strongest indication of how badly the Steelers wanted rookie Le'Veon Bell to seize the job of feature back and run with it came this morning when the team traded for Felix Jones.

[+] EnlargeFelix Jones
Howard Smith/USA TODAY SportsFelix Jones adds speed to the Steelers' backfield.
The Steelers were clearly not comfortable with Isaac Redman or Jonathan Dwyer -- or a combination of the two -- handling the bulk of the carries while Bell is sidelined with a mid-foot sprain.

Enter Jones, who underachieved in Dallas for five seasons before signing with Philadelphia in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent.

Jones showed flashes in Dallas but the 5-foot-10, 215-pounder never became the kind of back the Cowboys envisioned when they took him with the 22nd pick of the 2008 NFL draft -- one selection ahead of former Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall.

Jones never had a 1,000-yard season with the Cowboys, and his best year came in 2010 when he rushed for 800 yards on 185 carries. DeMarco Murray's emergence made Jones expendable, and the former Arkansas star apparently didn’t fit into the Eagles’ plans either.

Jones has the kind of speed that neither Redman nor Dwyer possesses. The Steelers could pair him with one of those two power backs to anchor the running game until Bell returns.

For all of the optimism coach Mike Tomlin expressed about the progress Bell has already made the reality is that the former Michigan State could be sidelined for a significant part of the regular season.

The Steelers will err on the side of caution when it comes to Bell, their second-round pick last April, and he will presumably be eased back into action even after he is cleared to return.

It is certainly worth the Steelers taking a long look at Jones, especially since they didn’t give up much to get him. Outside linebacker Adrian Robinson appeared in 12 games last season after making the team as an undrafted free agent and played on special teams.

Robinson was not a lock to make the 53-man roster this year so the Steelers don’t lose much even if Jones doesn’t contribute much or even stick with the team.

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

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