James Conner coming to Pittsburgh was a storybook moment. Unfortunately, his season didn’t end on a similar note. Conner suffered a torn MCL against the New England Patriots, a storyline forgotten to Jesse James catch-gate. The team put him on injured reserve later in the week, ending his season. The last thing we heard about Conner was that his surgery “went great,” the standard line after practically any surgery.
Joining Roosevelt Nix on his podcast yesterday, Conner talked about how his rehab is going.
“Update you all on my rehab, I was sprinting today on the treadmill,” Conner said. “So things are looking bright for next year. So I’m excited for Year Two, gotta be our year, bro.”
It sounds like Conner will be ready for OTAs in the spring. But if he’s limited then, he’s sure to be available for training camp come late July.
Though like most rookies, Conner struggled as a blocker and out of the backfield, he ran well when given the opportunity. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry with a long of 23, something Bell only did once all of last regular season.
Provided he’s healthy, Conner will enter 2018 as the team’s #2 back (and also assuming Le’Veon Bell returns). If Bell isn’t in camp because of a holdout, practically a guarantee if he’s tagged and a long-term deal not worked out, Conner will act as the lead back for the entire preseason, and a great chance to show the improvements he’s made from year one to two.
Speaking about his rookie year, Conner said staying home was a huge help.
“What’s crazy is, I was a rookie but I felt so comfortable with the boys. Me playing my football at Pitt, I’m literally next door. A wall separates us.”
And he was thankful for Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert to take a chance on him period, much less with a third round selection, when Conner admitted that pre-draft, he wondered if anyone would roll the dice on him.
It’s a great, laid back convo between Conner and Nix. We’ll write a little more about their podcast throughout the weekend.