With Le’Veon Bell still MIA, James Conner is jumping on the chance to be the temporary lead back. Conner returned to practice today, per this video captured by the Beaver County Times’ Chris Bradford, showing him going through individual drills.
James Conner back at work pic.twitter.com/bqeBb6F3R5
— Chris Bradford (@PghBradford) May 30, 2017
He does seem to be wearing sweats instead of shorts like the rest of his teammates. Not sure if that means anything or not but worth noting.
Conner missed the first week of OTAs with a hamstring injury. Our Matthew Marczi had just written today the value of the reps he was missing. In general, it’s unfortunate for any rookie but even moreso with Bell not at the facility, though even if he was, it’s unlikely he’d be able to practice following offseason groin surgery.
It is unclear if Conner is going through team drills or where he is at on the depth chart. For now, he could be behind vets like Knile Davis. But given his draft status and true running back ability, whereas Davis was brought on primarily for special teams duty, Conner is the odds-on favorite to open the season as Bell’s #2. That will put him in line for a couple carries a game, spelling Bell the rare time he needs it, and possibly some goal-line and short yardage work, too.
He’s also expected to have a heavy presence on special teams, using his pass rushing background to his advantage and make him more valuable on gameday.