The fact that Pittsburgh Steelers second-year running back James Conner is already back on the field this week for the start of the team’s annual OTA practices is certainly great news and especially since he’s now just five months removed from the surgery he had performed to reportedly repair a torn MCL in his right knee. If that’s not enough, the pictures of Conner practicing that have already surfaced reveal that he’s likely shed a few pounds during the offseason.
Conner has certainly had his share of health issues dating back to his college career at Pittsburgh and that’s probably why several are hesitant right now to guarantee him a spot on the 2018 53-man roster. That, along with the fact that he must improve his pass protection ability in his second NFL offseason as well as special teams play. Those aspects of Conner’s game aside, he really showed quite often during his rookie season that he can be counted on when it comes to doing the one thing that he should do well and that’s carrying the football.
While Conner only carried the football 31 times in total during his rookie season, 14 (45.2%) of those runs resulted in successful plays while 19 of them resulted in gains of at least 3 yards or more. The Pittsburgh product also had 7 runs that gained 9 yards or more during his rookie season and you can see all of those from the end zone view in the video below.
Conner not only showed that he could run successful between the tackles during his rookie season, a good portion of his long runs in 2017 came outside the tackles. That’s a great sign even though it is a very, very small sample size.
Will Conner ultimately make the 53-man roster this year? It’s hard to say for sure but if he’s able to stay healthy and improve the aspects of his game that revolve around him not having the football in his hands, you really have to like his chances.
|#||WEEK||OPP||QRT||TIME||DWN||DIST||LOS||PLAY BY PLAY||DIR||YDS||SUCC|
|1||1||Browns||2||11:13||1||10||PIT 6||James Conner right guard for 1 yard (tackle by Larry Ogunjobi)||RG||1||No|
|2||1||Browns||3||0:33||2||8||PIT 36||James Conner left guard for 5 yards (tackle by Larry Ogunjobi)||LG||5||Yes|
|3||1||Browns||4||14:30||1||10||MID 50||James Conner left guard for 4 yards (tackle by Joe Schobert and Jason McCourty)||LG||4||No|
|4||1||Browns||4||13:06||1||10||CLE 30||James Conner right guard for 1 yard (tackle by Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert)||RG||1||No|
|5||2||Vikings||1||4:55||1||10||MIN 28||James Conner right tackle for 9 yards (tackle by Eric Kendricks)||RT||9||Yes|
|6||4||Ravens||1||5:48||2||18||PIT 17||James Conner for 23 yards (tackle by Jimmy Smith)||LE||23||Yes|
|7||4||Ravens||1||2:28||1||10||BAL 12||James Conner right guard for -2 yards (tackle by Brandon Carr)||RG||-2||No|
|8||4||Ravens||2||4:43||2||9||BAL 14||James Conner right tackle for 7 yards (tackle by Za’Darius Smith)||RT||7||Yes|
|9||4||Ravens||3||7:58||2||7||BAL 26||James Conner left end for -2 yards (tackle by Patrick Onwuasor)||LE||-2||No|
|10||5||Jaguars||4||1:44||1||10||PIT 30||James Conner middle for 1 yard (tackle by Eli Ankou)||M||1||No|
|11||5||Jaguars||4||1:07||2||9||PIT 31||James Conner middle for 5 yards (tackle by Eli Ankou and Barry Church)||M||5||No|
|12||5||Jaguars||4||0:34||3||4||PIT 36||James Conner middle for 3 yards (tackle by Dawuane Smoot and Eli Ankou)||M||3||No|
|13||6||Chiefs||1||10:10||2||14||KAN 45||James Conner left end for 11 yards (tackle by Reggie Ragland)||LE||11||Yes|
|14||7||Bengals||2||14:23||1||10||PIT 36||James Conner middle for 5 yards (tackle by Pat Sims and Darqueze Dennard)||M||5||Yes|
|15||7||Bengals||4||3:27||1||10||CIN 32||James Conner middle for 10 yards (tackle by Darqueze Dennard)||M||10||Yes|
|16||7||Bengals||4||2:44||1||10||CIN 22||James Conner middle for 4 yards (tackle by Jordan Willis)||M||4||No|
|17||8||Lions||2||7:54||1||10||PIT 42||James Conner left tackle for 1 yard (tackle by Tahir Whitehead)||LT||1||No|
|18||10||Colts||4||8:39||1||10||CLT 35||James Conner left end for 12 yards (tackle by Pierre Desir and Antonio Morrison)||LE||12||Yes|
|19||11||Titans||1||3:00||1||10||PIT 25||James Conner right tackle for -1 yards (tackle by Jurrell Casey and Austin Johnson)||RT||-1||No|
|20||11||Titans||1||2:17||2||11||PIT 24||James Conner middle for no gain (tackle by Brian Orakpo and Johnathan Cyprien)||M||0||No|
|21||11||Titans||4||7:21||1||10||TEN 17||James Conner left guard for 3 yards (tackle by DaQuan Jones)||LG||3||No|
|22||11||Titans||4||6:45||2||7||TEN 14||James Conner left guard for 5 yards (tackle by Adoree’ Jackson)||LG||5||Yes|
|23||11||Titans||4||2:22||1||10||TEN 22||James Conner left tackle for 5 yards (tackle by Logan Ryan)||LT||5||Yes|
|24||13||Bengals||3||3:21||1||10||PIT 16||James Conner right end for 10 yards (tackle by Ryan Glasgow and Clayton Fejedelem).||RE||10||Yes|
|25||13||Bengals||3||2:50||1||10||PIT 41||James Conner middle for 5 yards (tackle by William Jackson and Clayton Fejedelem)||M||5||Yes|
|26||13||Bengals||3||2:12||2||5||PIT 46||James Conner right end for -3 yards (tackle by Vontaze Burfict)||RE||-3||No|
|27||14||Ravens||1||3:08||1||10||PIT 27||James Conner left guard for no gain (tackle by Patrick Onwuasor)||LG||0||No|
|28||14||Ravens||2||15:00||1||10||BAL 41||James Conner left end for 6 yards (tackle by Marlon Humphrey)||LE||6||Yes|
|29||15||Patriots||2||5:46||2||12||PIT 43||James Conner middle for 10 yards (tackle by Stephon Gilmore)||M||10||Yes|
|30||15||Patriots||4||14:20||1||10||PIT 16||James Conner right guard for 1 yard (tackle by Malcom Brown and Lawrence Guy)||RG||1||No|
|31||15||Patriots||4||9:54||1||20||PIT 28||James Conner left guard for 2 yards (tackle by Malcom Brown and Deatrich Wise Jr.)||LG||2||No|