As we careen toward training camp later this month, certain storylines will whirl quicker round the offseason drum, like a spinning washer just before it comes to a stop.
One narrative surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers that this offseason is the idea that, for the very first time in Mike Tomlin’s tenure, there might be a running back-by-committee strategy into the backfield.
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A year later James Conner was the workhorse prior to getting injured, the Steelers added rookie Benny Snell and perceive a heartier role for pass-catching back Jaylen Samuels. Speaking with NFL Network to an interview which will air on NFL Total Access on Monday night, Conner suggested he is preparing for a similar workload to continue year.
“I’ll have a similar function. I am healthy, first of all, I’m 100 percent healthy now. We’ll cross that bridge once we arrive,” Conner said of the workload this year. “But we have talent in that area. We have Jaylen Samuels who’s a huge receiver. Benny Snell was obtained by us. We all know the work that he did in Kentucky. He’s a runner that is hard-bodied, therefore those guys will get bits. It is going to be interesting this season just seeing those other men being successful.”
The offseason conversation surrounding the backfield — which was kickstarted by GM Kevin Colbert before this offseason — could become meaningless if Conner stays healthy and proves to be the tackle-breaking menace he was early last year. Throughout his career as head coach, Tomlin favored his crime use one back. Having a dual-threat alternative like Conner, we can visit Pittsburgh lean back toward a system which relies heavily on a single runner, together with others acting as supplements instead of committee members.
Conner noted that given that it’s still early July, there has been no deep discussion on his role this offseason.
“It goes week . The game plan will be different every week,” he explained. “I know I will be a significant part of it and have a large role. So far as specifics, we don’t play it like this.”
After watching Le’Veon Bell walk from the Antonio Brown trade, there were questions regarding a gift drain in Pittsburgh, but during the non-padded model of offseason workouts Conner dismissed this notion.
“It’s early. All we had was OTAs, but OTAs were moving sleek, the offense was clicking,” he said of his crime without both former Pro Bowlers. “Our top guys were there. We’ll see. I think we’re going to be just fine. No diss to those guys. It has been amazing, though, playing each other.”
Last week, Conner commented on an Instagram post of JuJu Smith-Schuster saying they were going to”shock the entire world ” Conner stated after an offseason of being questioned, he’s simply showing faith in these players with the company.
“Not reassuring nothing but I think we have a fantastic prospect of going all the way,” Conner said of the remark. “That is what we play for, that’s why we show up every day, that’s the ultimate goal, is to receive a ring. I understand that’s a lot of folks do not think that we can do it, with the bits that we lost, and just ripping us out. We do not mind it, though. We know that they’re out we, but that’s why I said we’re going to jolt them because I do not think they expect us to perform what we are going to do this season.”
While the offseason started out with hype surrounding the Cleveland Browns and queries about the Steelers’ future, when the regular season starts, there will be a lot of individuals who think Pittsburgh can rebound from a down year.
Catch the entire interview with Pittsburgh Steelers RB James Conner on Monday night on NFL Network’s”NFL Total Access” at 7 p.m. ET.