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May 7, 2013

One throw at a time

PITTSBURGH — The idea is so preposterous, at least to Landry Jones, he couldn’t help but laugh.

Asked if he sees himself one day replacing Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback smiles and shakes his head.

“I have no idea,” Jones said. “You might want to talk to the coaches or Mr. Rooney on that one, what they want to do. I’m just here to learn football. They give me an opportunity to come play.”

Even if the opportunity to do it when it counts won’t come for years, if it comes at all, at least in Pittsburgh.

General manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin insist the team did not draft Jones as the quarterback of the future but spent a fourth-round pick on the former Oklahoma star to provide a youth movement of sorts at a position in need of fresh blood.

Pittsburgh already addressed its primary backup spot when it signed Bruce Gradkowski to a contract earlier in the offseason. Yet rather than bring back 38-year-old Charlie Batch for another fall the Steelers brought in the 23-year-old Jones, whose eye-popping college numbers and experience with Oklahoma’s pro-style offense should lessen the learning curve.

Jones, who is named after Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry, is the highest quarterback selected by Pittsburgh since it grabbed Roethlisberger in the first round of the 2004 draft. Roethlisberger started almost immediately and led the Steelers to a 15-1 record.

The only way Jones plays in 2013 is if disaster strikes. And while it seems Roethlisberger has been around forever, the two-time Super Bowl winner turned just 31 in March and could easily play for the better part of another decade before the Steelers need to get serious about a successor.

Maybe Jones will be around then. Maybe not. A prospect Jones insists doesn’t bother him at all.

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