We’ll know for sure in about 12 hours or so whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers will see the return of Jaylen Samuels, their second-string running back behind starter James Conner. Samuels had his knee scoped a few weeks ago, and was expected to miss a month of games, but he participated in practice fully for all of the past week. Nevertheless, he was listed as questionable to play.
Whether or not he is active may say a lot about the role that rookie running back Benny Snell will have. In his lone game without Samuels, he logged a comfortable number of snaps and recorded 18 touches, gaining 89 yards from scrimmage on 17 rushes for 75 yards and a 14-yard reception.
While he said he felt that he did a pretty decent job offensively, Snell is always looking at what he needs to work on. The increased playing time, he said, also hasn’t altered his outlook. “My attitude has not changed”, he told Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“I still want to take coaching, and just try to be a game-changer”, he said as he likely prepares to have a reduced role once again, following a one-game respite. “I want to put it all on the field so the coaches know they can trust me, leave me in, and earn respect from the vets”.
And the idea of earning the respect is important to him, especially so in light of the reaction by some to the manner in which he has expressed himself during his first offseason. While he has fans of “Benny Snell Football” as high as head coach Mike Tomlin, he also expressed an understanding that it could be taken the wrong way.
“The ‘Benny Snell Football,’ I took that as kind of a fun thing”, he said. “I kind of was using it wrong with the media”. Snell said that he wants people to see him as “the fun kid that just likes to have fun…Loves football in that kind of way”.
In other words, you probably won’t hear him talking about ‘Benny Snell Football’ as much, or referring to himself in the third person as much, in large part because he realizes that not everybody is going to take it the same way. He said he wasn’t told by players or coaches to cut it out.
Instead, he just wants to make it clear that he is focused, dedicated, and humble, just a young player looking to be the best he can be and willing to put in the work and take in the coaching to help himself get there. And in the meantime, he will do whatever is asked of him to help his team win games.
If that’s what Benny Snell Football represents, then I’ll sign up for more.