Steelers quarterback Jones likely to make first NFL start vs. Chiefs on Sunday

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — Landry Jones had his first regular-season NFL action last week.

Now, it looks as if he will make his first start this week.

Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that his team will prepare for Sunday's game against the Chiefs at Kansas City as if Jones will be the starting quarterback.

Starter Ben Roethlisberger has been out since spraining the medical collateral ligament in his left knee Sept. 27 in a win over the Rams at St. Louis.

Backup Mike Vick suffered a strained right hamstring in last Sunday's 25-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

"I think it's prudent and appropriate right now to operate under the assumption that Landry is our quarterback this week," Tomlin said. "He is the guy that's healthy."

Jones had been the third-string quarterback since being drafted in the fourth round in 2013. He played well against the Cardinals, completing 8 of 12 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

"We were not shocked by his performance, but we were pleased by it," Tomlin said.

The Steelers (4-2) have gone 2-1 without Roethlisberger. However, Vick has struggled, completing 40 of 66 passes for 371 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley called more low-risk plays for Vick, who signed as a free agent at the end of the preseason when backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski was placed on injured reserve with a hand injury.

The Steelers, though, will likely open up the offense more if Jones starts. He had extensive action in the preseason as played five games rather than the normal four because of the Steelers appearance in the Hall of Fame game.

"He took advantage of those reps, like we all talked about during the course of the preseason, but regular season is different from the preseason," Tomlin said.

"It's not what you know, it's about what you're capable of executing. Knowledge as a third quarterback with a clipboard, or in a classroom setting is one thing, and playing in a hostile situation is another. I give him credit for rising up."

While injuries have left Jones as the only healthy quarterback on the roster, Tomlin said the Steelers have not worked out any free agents. They could promote rookie wide receiver Tyler Murphy from the practice squad as he played quarterback at Boston College.

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown voiced his displeasure last week about not getting as many targets since Vick replaced Roethlisberger. Though Brown caught just three passes for 24 yards against the Cardinals, he was pleased with how Jones handled the offense.

"He was a leader in the huddle," Brown said. "He was really positive all day. He was a commander, calling out blitzes, becoming aware of some things. He showed amazing growth, amazing poise and it was fun to be a part of."

Notes: C Maurkice Pouncey has not had a second surgery on his broken left fibula, Tomlin said. Pouncey was placed on the injured reserve/designated to return list after being injured in a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. There were multiple reports last week that Pouncey had developed a complication from the initial surgery and would require another operation. ... LB Ryan Shazier (shoulder) is expected to return against the Chiefs after sitting out the past four games. ... Tomlin is hopeful DE Stephon Tuitt can play after leaving Sunday's game with a sprained right knee.