It is no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers have had some trouble getting running back Le’Veon Bell to show up to organized team activities. Fortunately, they have another running back in James Conner who is chomping at the bit to impress the coaches in any way he can.
Following an inspirational road to the NFL, Conner endured a rather underwhelming rookie season behind the Steelers’ star workhorse. According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, he feels he must make a serious jump in the 2018 NFL season:
“Didn’t really do much [last season] so I have a lot to prove,” Conner recently said. “I just needed to learn more, needed to grow more. I’m in the process of growing right now.”
Conner added that he is looking forward to proving himself to the franchise.
“I haven’t proved anything yet,”
Conner said. “Just another opportunity for me to prove to my coaches and earn respect from my teammates that I’m capable of playing on Sundays.”
Needless to say, there is plenty of truth to Conner’s comments. Despite Bell missing time last offseason, he was unable to garner any type of role in the offense for Pittsburgh. As a result, he registered just 144 on 32 carries in the 2017 campaign.
Regardless, Conner should not be too harsh on himself. Bell is widely considered the best running back in the league and his versatile skill set does not allow much time on the field for any other backs on the depth chart. However, that could change very soon if he and the Steelers are unable to come to terms after this season.
That said, it is easy to see why Conner is so motivated on making the jump this season. If he cannot establish himself as a viable option behind Bell, then it is likely that Pittsburgh will find someone else who can either in free agency or through the draft.