Steelers Still Confident in James Conner, Know Competition Will Help Return
PITTSBURGH -- An abundance of "acute" injuries kept Steelers running back James Conner off the field for all but 10 games. After 973 yards, 12 touchdowns and a Pro Bowl appearance the year before, Conner's dib injury-riddled season left concerns for the future of the runner.
Still, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has high expectations for the team's running back. Looking back at his first season as the starter, Colbert knows what is possible when Conner is healthy.
He also acknowledged that others in the backfield helped during the off-and-on season.
"Benny Snell had a nice season for us as a rookie, James had an unfortunate season; and what we tried to emphasize to James was this was this year," Colbert said. "The previous year you were one of the best in the league, and we know you're still a young, ascending player and we want you to get back to where you were in 2018."
Colbert hopes Conner can find the success he had in 2018 and expects the continued progress of Snell and Jaylen Samuels will help the process back.
In his rookie season, Snell accumulated 426 yards and two scores. While a key receiving threat out of the backfield, Samuels caught 47 passes for 305 yards and a touchdown.
"The injuries happened, they were acute injuries that weren't avoidable," Colbert reiterated. "It happened, he has to work through it and we're confident in James because we know what he did in 2018, and we're also hopeful he can find that again in 2020 but in the meantime, competition from a Benny Snell and a Jaylen Samuels should help that process."
Conner rushed for 464 yards and four touchdowns and added 34 receptions for 251 yards and three scores in 2019. The fourth-year runner is entering the final year of his rookie contract.