During his recent media rounds to promote the Polaris Slingshot vehicle, Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner talked briefly with SI Now. During that interview, Conner was asked to to describe how Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is approaching this upcoming season in regard to his motivation and overall focus.
“Man, ever since I’ve been here his focus has been the same,” Conner said of Roethlisberger. “Every practice, he’s on. He’s focused now more than ever. I know he wants another ring really, really bad and he knows that feeling.
During the offseason, Roethlisberger took most of the Steelers running backs, wide receivers and tight ends to his vacation home in Georgia for a little rest and relaxation and presumably also a little bit of work. Conner recently talked a tiny bit about that trip and what Roethlisberger told those of them who were present.
“We were in Georgia at his lake house and he was just telling us stories in the backyard about how it felt when the confetti came down on his head and he how he wants that feeling again,” Conner said. “So, I’m gonna bust my butt for him this year. And everybody, we’re playing for each other this year and so he’s really determined this year. And I’m happy he’s going to be around for a couple more years.”
Judging by all that’s happened so far this offseason, the Steelers offense has become a tight-knit group and a lot more closer than they were last season. The current narrative seems to be that the offense has undergone an addition by subtraction this past offseason as a result of wide receiver Antonio Brown being traded and running back Le’Veon Bell being allowed to leave via free agency. As they went out the proverbial screen door, both Brown and Bell took shots at Roethlisberger that included his leadership abilities being called into question.
Conner has been an unbelievable Steelers teammate since arriving via the draft a few years ago and his play last season showed that the offense really didn’t miss Bell, who decided to holdout all of 2018 instead of playing under the franchise tag. As a result of him playing so much last season, Conner learned a lot more about Roethlisberger and especially when it comes to how he deals with pressure. During his recent SI Now interview, Conner was asked if he thinks Roethlisberger is feeling any extra pressure this year.
“I don’t even think he knows what pressure is anymore,” Conner said. “He’s been in a lot of tight games, a lot of tight situations, he knows it’s not his first time around. So, I think he just goes out and plays his best and that’s what he always does. So, I don’t even think he feels pressure.”
Conner certainly has said and done all of the right things so far this offseason and you can bet that Roethlisberger and others in the Steelers organization have taken notice of that. Conner, who is entering the third year of his rookie contract, will likely be a candidate for a contract extension at this same time next year and especially if he has an even better season than he did in 2018.