For all the focus on James Conner, and rightfully so, Conner’s focus goes beyond himself. He’s in Pittsburgh to win a Super Bowl.
“It’s a new chapter,” he told Missi Matthews in a sit-down interview over on the team site. “We turn the page. A lot more work to put in. Overcame a lot but I’m ready to come to work. We gotta go get number seven.”
That’s what Mike Tomlin echoed to Conner on draft night when he told the back he was going to be a Steeler. It was an emotional moment for all the right reasons but Tomlin ended the call stating that it was time to go to work.
Conner certainly is expected to make an impact on this offense immediately, having a strong chance to be Le’Veon Bell’s backup and see a couple carries per game while contributing on special teams. All it will take is one injury, Bell still hasn’t gotten through an entire season, for Conner to become the top dog.
He has the experience of being the workhorse, recording 20+ carries in a game a whopping 14 times with the Panthers. In four games, he carried the ball at least 30 times, including a career high 38 against Duke in 2014, the best game of his career.
It’s why the Steelers drafted him. And why running backs coach James Saxon was quick to point out the selection was made because of Conner as a prospect, not simply because of his off the field story. Going forward, that’s where the focus needs to be, and is something Conner is appreciative of.
“That’s everything I want to hear,” he said, responding to Saxon’s comments. “I would hope the Steelers wouldn’t draft me just because I’m from the city and it’s a feel-good story. I believe I’m a great running back and I can help the team win. I just want to come here and earn respect from my teammates and at the end of the day, it’s just about winning. We got to go get that Super Bowl. It’s not a feel-good story. I’m here to play football.”
There’s no doubt he has the right attitude. On and off the field. It’s those reasons, and the talent he’s shown on the field, that made him a Pittsburgh Steeler.