Just as James Conner’s hulking back and new book began to make the rounds, the man himself was the latest target of media questions, sitting down for a teleconference with local reporters yesterday, and the Pittsburgh Steelers running back addressed a number of topics during the 15-minute session.
While having himself and others like JuJu Smith-Schuster rand Stephon Tuitt back healthy in 2020 will obviously be a significant boost for what the Steelers are trying to do in 2020, everybody on the team understands that nobody plays a bigger role than that of the franchise quarterback, and they played almost all of last season without theirs in Ben Roethlisberger.
Conner may only be going into his fourth season, but he grew up nearby watching Roethlisberger play as a fan of the team, and they forged a relationship while he was at Pitt. Roethlisberger even helped campaign to get the Steelers to draft him in 2017, though likely, they didn’t need any persuading.
With both of these guys back and healthy, many expect the offense to look a lot different this year, just one season after being one of the very worst and least efficient in all of football. Just a few injuries can do that to a unit.
Roethlisberger is coming back from elbow surgery, but has been throwing since February and has in recent times ramped up his throwing to ‘NFL-level’ passes, which he has been conducting with his teammates. Conner himself has been involved in some of these sessions, and he was asked about the quarterback’s progress and what he will bring to the team on the field this season.
“Just having him back there, we know what he is. It’s no secret”, he said. “I know what type of, what type of person he is, his [work] ethic, and and how he loves the game. For him to be back out there, we’re excited for it. He looks good, looks strong, he looks determined, motivated. So we’re excited, we’re looking forward to it”.
Since there are no in-person official team workouts, we’ve one been graced with the smallest of clips of Roethlisberger throwing this offseason, but he has worked out with a number of his skill players, including Conner, Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Diontae Johnson, and especially Ryan Switzer.
All of them have pretty much conveyed the same message, that they see the same quarterback they’ve always seen throughout their careers, in terms of the delivery and velocity of the ball. Which is great, of course, but the real test will be seeing him do it 550 times over a 17-week period…and then another 150 times during the playoffs.