The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How much work will Benny Snell get in his first game back on the field?
Outside of James Conner, rookie running back Benny Snell is the only running back on the Steelers’ roster this year who had what I would call a successful game running the ball, that coming on Week Six against the Los Angeles Chargers, when he rushed for 75 yards on 17 carries. He was injured five carries into the next game and has been out since.
With Conner reinjuring his shoulder upon his one-quarter return on Thursday, and unlikely to play for at least the next week, Snell’s return has a feeling of importance to it, given what we have seen from Jaylen Samuels and Trey Edmunds running the ball.
While the running back position is frequently discussed as the most fungible in the league, we have also seen how deficiencies at the position at an individual level can have a major impact on the quality of the performance of the unit as a whole. Both of the aforementioned backs have shown fatal flows in their vision and processing of running lanes.
Snell is the only one of the group to have an extensive amount of experience carrying the ball during his college career. Even though he has had plenty of problems on the ground himself, he seemed to show improvement.
Plus, he’s not the one who has been putting the team behind the chains for the past three weeks. So how much work will he get in his first game back? He has to show more than the fact that he is healthy, but also that he is ready.