It has become something of a tradition for the Pittsburgh Steelers under Mike Tomlin. You draft a big back coming out of college, let then get through their first season, and then put them on a fitness regimen that slims down their body heading into year two. Basically Jonathan Dwyer is the only one who managed to avoid this cycle.
2019 fourth-round pick Benny Snell is the latest to successfully adopt the Mike Tomlin Weight Loss Plan for Big Backs. He just spoke to reporters earlier today before practice, and confirmed, as is very often the case, that his weight listed on the team’s website is no longer accurate.
Down for 224 pounds according to the Steelers’ roster, he told reporters, according to Brooke Pryor and others, that he now weighs in at 212 pounds. We have already seen him in photos and on video since arriving at training camp, so we were aware that he has slimmed down, but it’s nice to get verbal confirmation directly from the source as well.
Benny Snell says he weighs 212 right now. He’s listed on the roster at 224.
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) August 19, 2020
As a rookie last season, Snell played in 13 games, missing some due to a knee injury. With James Conner also nursing injuries throughout most of the year, he managed to log 108 carries in 2019, the most by a rookie running back since Le’Veon Bell as a full-time starter in 2013. He produced 426 yards on the ground with two touchdowns, with two games of 90-plus yards.
As he heads into year two, Snell looks to feature as the Steelers’ number two back behind Conner, this time with more trust from the coaching staff, and hopefully as a more complete player whom they would leave on the field in all situations. Last season, he recorded 111 touches on just 166 snaps, so he was rarely without the football.
Pittsburgh is hoping to find success on the ground through a platoon of backs that also features third-year Jaylen Samuels, second-year Kerrith Whyte, rookie Anthony McFarland, and a pair of veterans in Trey Edmunds and Wendell Smallwood, who was signed at the start of training camp.
At most, only two of these backs named above will actually end up on the roster, and McFarland will be one of them, so between Samuels, Whyte, Edmunds, and Smallwood, they are competing for only one roster spot, which is not even guaranteed.
The Steelers have found success in drafting larger backs and asking them to slim down, as we’ve seen most recently with Bell and Conner. Snell is the latest to have the opportunity to take his game to another level in his second year, though he doesn’t figure to have the same snaps that the aforementioned did as full-time starters.