The Pittsburgh Steelers lost two key offensive weapons during the offseason in wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell and while the losses of both will certainly need to accounted for on the field, even though the latter of the two didn’t even play at all in 2018, it certainly sounds like the team is tighter-knit group as a result of both players no longer being on the team.
During a Monday morning interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Steelers running back James Conner was asked if it’s fair to assume that the team’s locker room is tighter now as a group with a few unnamed players no longer being in Pittsburgh.
“Yeah, it’s fair,” Conner said. “You know, you can just feel it in the air, you know, feel the vibe. Throughout the OTAs and the minicamp that we had, everybody was excited to be there in the morning, excited to see each other. Even right now, you know, guys, we have our group chats and we’re all talking. We can’t wait to get back to training camp just to be around each other, man, and just play for each other. It’s all about relationships. So, you know, it’s kind of fun, like it’s all we’ve got, you know. It’s a band of brothers. And so the vibe, yeah, we definitely got closer.”
With Bell not playing last year due to him choosing not to sign the franchise tag, Conner was asked to take over as the Steelers starting running back and not only did he do so admirably, he also wound up being voted to the Pro Bowl for his efforts. On Monday, Conner was asked if he thinks the team will have a wide receiver be able to step up this year to help replace the loss of Brown the way he did last year with Bell sitting out the season.
“Yeah, for sure,” Conner said. “You know with JuJu [Smith-Schuster], we know all about Juju and he’s going to do his thing and have an incredible year. You know, JuJu’s very talented and stuff. And Donte Moncrief, we added him in the offseason and our second draft pick, Deontae Johnson, you know, he’s our little player. You know, he’s really talented and stuff. So, I mean everybody has to pick up the slack at all positions. You know, Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell, we added those guys as our running backs and they’re talented runners and they can catch as well. So, you know, we’re gonna play for each other this year. We’ve got Ben [Roethlisberger] back, Hall of Famer, we’re really excited about this year.”
This probably isn’t the last time we’ll hear from Conner this week as he’s making the media rounds right now promoting the Polaris Slingshot vehicle. He’s already scheduled to appear Monday night on ‘Total Access’ on the NFL Network, by the way. Conner’s positive offseason energy is surely infectious.