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.
1 story surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers that this offseason is the concept that, for the first time in Mike Tomlin’s tenure, there might be a running back-by-committee approach to the backfield.
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A year later James Conner was the workhorse prior to getting hurt, the Steelers added rookie Benny Snell and perceive a heartier role for pass-catching back Jaylen Samuels. Discussing with NFL Network to an interview which will air on NFL Total Access on Monday night, Conner indicated he’s preparing for a similar workload to continue year.
“I’ll have a similar role. I’m healthy, first of all, I’m 100 percent healthy now. We’ll cross that bridge when we arrive,” Conner said of his workload this year. “But we got talent in that room. We have Jaylen Samuels who’s a talented runner, a receiver. Benny Snell was obtained by us. We know the job he did in Kentucky. He is a runner, so those guys will get bits. It is going to be fun this season just seeing those other men being successful.”
The offseason conversation surrounding the backfield — that was kickstarted by GM Kevin Colbert earlier this offseason — would become moot if Conner remains healthy and proves to be the tackle-breaking menace that he had been early last year. Throughout his career as head coach, Tomlin favored his crime use one back. With a dual-threat option like Conner, we could visit Pittsburgh lean back toward a system that relies heavily on a single runner, with others acting as supplements rather than committee members.
Conner noted that given that it’s still early July, there has been no deep debate on his function this offseason.
“It goes week to week. The game plan will be different each week,” he explained. “I know I will be a big part of it and have a big role. As far as specifics, we do not play with it like this.”
After watching Le’Veon Bell walk away and the Antonio Brown commerce, there were questions regarding a gift drain in Pittsburgh, but during the non-padded model of offseason workouts Conner dismissed that idea.
“It’s early. All we had was OTAs, but OTAs were going sleek, the offense was clicking,” he explained of his offense without both former Pro Bowlers. “Our top guys were there. We are going to see. I think we are going to be just fine. No diss to those guys. It’s been awesome, though, playing each other”
Last week, Conner commented on an Instagram article of JuJu Smith-Schuster saying they were going to”shock the world.” Conner said following an offseason of being questioned, he is simply showing faith in those players with the company.
“Not reassuring nothing but I think we have a great chance of going all the way,” Conner said of the comment. “That is what we play , that is why we appear daily, that is the ultimate aim, is to receive a ring. I know that’s a lot of folks do not feel that we are able to do it, with the bits we dropped, and just ripping us out. We do not mind it, though. We know they’re counting us out, but that is why I said we’re going to jolt them because I don’t believe they expect us to perform exactly what we’re going to do this year.”
While the offseason began with hype surrounding the Cleveland Browns and questions regarding the Steelers’ long run, when the regular season starts, there will be a lot of individuals who believe 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.