Though the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offseason began like something akin to American Gladiators, once the players actually reported for work, it has all been kumbayas and sunshine. By far the biggest narrative that we have heard from the players has been about how much of a shift in tone and atmosphere there has been this offseason.
Everybody from Alejandro Villanueva and Ben Roethlisberger to Cameron Heyward and Vince Williams has talked about feeling that change, and a change for the better. The team is said to be closer together as a result of that.
The running backs room certainly appears to be close this offseason, and it probably helps that they are all close in age and experience. James Conner is going into his third year, while Trey Edmunds came out in the same class. Jaylen Samuels was added last year, and Benny Snell, Jr. was just drafted in April.
That group has really seemed to bond in particular, according to all of them. Snell hasn’t been bashful about talking as a rookie, either, and he recently talked about how much he has already leaned upon his fellow running backs to learn the position.
Referring to Conner, Samuels, and even fullback Roosevelt Nix, Snell told PennLive, “those are my guys, I get to learn from them every single day. And those are important parts of my days because they get to teach me little things that a coach might not see after a play or so to speak. So I always get to chat it up with them and make myself better”.
A fourth-round pick out of Kentucky, Snell was a productive runner for the Wildcats but had limited opportunities to show what else he could contribute, so that is one of the hurdles that he is looking to jump over during the summer.
Being able to lean on a couple of players who just recently went through the same transition a year or two ago, I think, is easily seen as being quite valuable. And it’s good that Snell isn’t shy about asking questions and absorbing everything that he can.
In fact, that is one of the qualities that seems to have quickly endeared himself to his new teammates, because they see the effort that he is trying to put in to get better and to make it all happen. Nevertheless, he still starts at the bottom of the totem pole.
The division of labor in the backfield is a subject that has been touched on a number of times by both the coaches and the players this spring, so it will be really interesting to see how it all works out in the regular season. Snell may have to wait a while into the season before the coaches really trust him to have much of a role in games, but perhaps his fellow running backs can help convince the coaches to get him on the field sooner.