Benny Snell has 65 carries so far during his rookie season, after seeing 37 carries over the course of the past two weeks for the Pittsburgh Steelers. 23 of them have come in the fourth quarter alone. 42 in total have come in the second half, meaning that he has just 23 carries in total in the first half of games, including only eight in the first quarter.
Does he want more of that early work in games? With James Conner effectively declaring himself out for the third consecutive week, Snell will figure to be the primary ball carrier once again, so the opportunity will be there, in theory.
“I definitely do” want to see more touches early in the game, he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday during his media availability yesterday. “I feel like one of my best attributes is I get better as the game goes on”.
And it’s easier to get stronger as the game goes on when you actually see playing time over the course of the game. If you’re coming in and just playing in the second half, you’re not in the flow of the game, and you didn’t have the opportunity to wear down the defense.
That’s Benny Snell Football, something that the team as a whole is increasingly embracing as they have come to see it put into action with their own eyes over the course of the past two weeks. After rushing for 98 yards on 21 carries two weeks ago, he added another 63-yard showing with a one-yard touchdown on 16 carries on Sunday.
“He’s a physical runner. He’s a young guy who is excited to get his opportunity to play”, said right tackle Matt Feiler about the rookie runner. “Anytime he gets the ball you can see him falling forward and getting that extra yard or two. That, in turn, helps us out and gets us in more manageable downs and distances”.
For much of the season, with Conner out, the running game has lagged in the hands of Jaylen Samuels and Trey Edmunds, the latter of whom has since been moved to fullback with Roosevelt Nix having been placed on the Reserve/Injured List.
Snell probably wasn’t supposed to see much of a role this year, but he could be the Steelers’ lead back for the remainder of the season, potentially even into the playoffs. Even when or if Conner is able to get back from his shoulder injury, there is the very real chance that his workload will be reduced, both for his own sake and because Snell has been earning the opportunities.