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Best Play/Worst Play: James Conner

New series we’re kicking off here on Steelers Depot. To begin a recap of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 season, a look at the singular best and worst play from each player on the roster. If I wanted to sum up a players season in 30 seconds, these are the plays I would look at.

Back to the skill positions with a look at James Conner.

Best Play: 11 yard run vs Bengals

While Conner was rough around the edges, he had consistent success as a runner with a healthy average and a couple nice runs. Some of that was the product of scheme, he was often used on power runs that gave him huge holes to run through but still, production is production.

There were other tough runs, too. Take this one from midseason against the Cincinnati Bengals. Designed to be a lead run behind Roosevelt Nix. But Conner reads the flow of the middle linebacker, scraping over to meet the FB in the hole, so he bends the run back. As the backside corner fills the alley, Conner shows impressive lateral agility by cutting to the inside, throwing out a stiff arm, and bursting upfield.

He isn’t able to completely get away from the corner but he gets some serious YAC. It’s an example of him creating beyond the structure of the play. Despite his size, that lateral movement and burst is impressive, sort of inline with what makes Le’Veon Bell so effective (though he’s nowhere near that level, to be clear).

Worst Play:

These are those rough edges. Ben Roethlisberger’s first of five interceptions against the Jacksonville Jaguars can be pinned on Conner. Middle linebacker blitz. Conner is late getting square to the block and can’t get fully in front of the linebacker, who is able to shed and pressure Roethlisberger as he looks to throw. Pass is a bit behind and the cornerback picks it off. Drive killer.

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