The calendar has now flipped over to July and that means the Pittsburgh Steelers annual training camp will be getting underway in Latrobe later this month. As usual, we have several series planned to get you ready for this year’s training camp and mine will center around preview profiles of 50 players over the course of the next 25 days. Most of these profiles will be on players who were under contract with the team in 2016.
Today, talking about the most well-known rookie – running back James Conner.
Intro: Conner was a bit of a storybook selection, though don’t confuse that for charity. A local player from Erie who played his college ball at Pitt, the Steelers took him in the third round. He had a strong career at Pitt and is known for beating cancer, returning to football last season.
Current Strengths: Great size at 6’1, 233 pounds. What the team looks for. Better initial bust and change of direction ability than given credit for. Good feet. Shows vision and ability to press linebackers in the hole, moves them with his eyes. Size lends itself to power, especially when he builds up speed into the second level.
Current Weaknesses: Height can create pad level issue and sap him of power. Lacks open field speed and won’t run away from many defensive backs. Limited receiver out of the backfield and a relative unknown as a blocker.
2017 Outlook: Conner figures to serve as Le’Veon Bell’s understudy this year. He won’t see much work unless Bell isn’t available. Perhaps Conner spells Bell for a series a game and the Steelers could use him in some short-yardage situations but that’s about the extend of his work.
He’s also anticipated to see plenty of work on special teams. His size and defensive end background should help him there. Perhaps he can fill the assumed void Vince Williams will leave.
2017 Base Salary: $465,000
2017 Salary Cap Charges: $641,572
2017 Health Status: Suffered hamstring injury in OTAs
2016 Health Status: No known injuries
2016 Regular Season Snaps Played: N/A
2016 Stat That Matters: 19 explosive (20+) runs in 2016, third in the FBS