Get ready to see a lot of Benny Snell Football during the 2019 regular season, because it’s coming to a Pittsburgh Steelers game near you. Only, it might not necessarily take the form that you expect. Realistically, the rookie running back may see more snaps on special teams this year than on offense, playing behind Pro Bowler James Conner and second-year Jaylen Samuels.
While he got the bulk of the work in the running game in last night’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with 26 rushing yards on 13 carries (nobody else had more than five carries) and 25 receiving yards on two receptions, Snell was most proud of his work on special teams.
Said the rookie in the locker room following the game, “I feel like it was a pretty good game. I think I did a good job on all four of the special teams that I was on. My opportunities that presented itself on offense, I felt like I tried to fall forward on my runs, stay solid in pass protection”.
When reporters followed up with a question about his contributions on special teams, he beamed as he proudly answered that he contributed on “all four” phases of special teams—punt and kickoff coverage and returns. “I’m on all four”. Asked again if he is capable of doing that while also contributing on offense, he again answered, confidently, “I did it. I did it”.
While I don’t think there is really much of a question as to whether or not Snell was going to make the roster—the Steelers fell in love with him even before the draft—the fact of his potential as a strong and frequent contributor on special teams raises some interesting prospects as to how the 53-man roster will take shape.
For one thing, I think it would pretty much eliminate any slim possibility of the team carrying Trey Edmunds, a strong special teams contributor in his own right, as a fourth running back. Elsewhere, it could help alleviate some of the pressure on other fringe performers on being standout special teams players if they can carve out a spot on offense or defense.
One thing that’s evident, at least when it comes to the world of football, is that anything Snell does, he approaches with passion and dedication. If he is going to play on special teams, he wants to do it as well as he possibly can.
There are worse qualities to have in a player, and that sense of interconnectedness may be as important on special teams as it is on offense or defense, as all 11 players on the unit have to work together in order to achieve the necessary result.
Here’s a little secret: ‘Benny Snell Football’ is just football. And that is the beauty of it. It’s not about ego. It’s not even about confidence in your abilities. It’s just about playing the game.