Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers win road over the Jacksonville Jaguars might easily have been the worst one running back James Conner as played so far during his young career as not only did the University of Pittsburgh product register just 25 yards rushing on 9 total carries, he also had two big drops during the fourth quarter. While Conner was obviously disappointed with how he played on Sunday, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has made sure to talk the Steelers second-year running back through his tough performance ever since it ended
“Yeah, I talked to him at the time and I just told him, I said, ‘Listen, don’t worry about it.’ I kind of joked with him because I knew he was down,” Roethlisberger revealed Tuesday morning during his weekly interview on 93.7 The Fan. “I said, ‘There’s two things about you dropping that big play.’ I think I was more disappointed on the fourth down one for us to keep it going, but I told him after the one down the sideline, I said, ‘Hey, two things, one, if you would have caught that and scored, that would have gave them a lot more time. And two, if you would have caught it and scored, I wouldn’t have been able to score a rushing touchdown. So, I appreciate it.’ And that kind of got a chuckle out of him and laugh. That’s really what it’s about.”
While Conner did have the two big drops in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the Jaguars, he did manage to catch six other passes thrown to him during the contest for 24 yards. In fact, Conner now enters Week 12 of the regular season with 45 receptions for 411 yards and a touchdown and only Steelers wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown currently have more catches than he does.
“His hands have been great,” Roethlisberger said on Tuesday. “And what I want to see, and I texted last him last night, I want to see how he bounces back. I don’t want him to lose confidence in his hands because I’m not losing confidence in him. And he’s been great as a receiver for us.”
Not only has Roethlisberger not lost confidence in Conner as a result of his not-so-great Sunday game, the same goes for the quarterback’s son, Ben Jr.
“The best in the world drop balls, it’s going to happen,” Roethlisberger said. “And so, how’s he going to bounce back and rebound? And I texted him last night, this a true story. I said, ‘Hey, even when you drop balls, I’ve got something to tell you.’ I said, ‘Last night my son said for Christmas he wants a Steelers helmet, gloves and a James Conner jersey.’ And I said, ‘Obviously, my son doesn’t have any hard feelings toward you, so you shouldn’t have any toward yourself.’ So, he got a good chuckle out of that.”
Roethlisberger went on to say that he doesn’t think Conner will have any problems bouncing back being as he’s already overcome so much adversity in his life not even related to playing football. Even so, Roethlisberger let it be known that he’ll make sure his young running back gets completely over this tiny speed bump in his fledgling football career.
“Yeah, I don’t foresee anything,” Roethlisberger said. “Like I said, speaking to him last night, obviously he’s still down, but he’ll put it up behind him and I’ll keep reminding him and talking to about it because we need him. And that’s part of being a professional football player is putting things behind you, both good and bad.”