The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.
Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.
As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion
Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.
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: Will Benny Snell be the Steelers’ ‘lead’ back by the end of the season?
Benny Snell opened some eyes on Monday night when he had the opportunity to step in for James Conner, who had to sit out the majority of the Steelers’ season opener, in prime time, due to an ankle injury.
Conner’s relatively few touches during the game were ineffective, but Snell looked strong, rushing for over 100 yards for the first time in his young career, showing up in pass protection, and overall looking like a more confident and prepared player.
After the game, head coach Mike Tomlin said that he was not surprised to see Snell show this sort of ‘bell cow’ capability, after having gone into the season saying that Conner would remain their bell cow. But if Conner struggles to stay on the field or is limited by injuries, this is a prime scenario that could lead to a natural transition on the depth chart.
It’s still very early and premature to suggest anything substantial. For all we know right now, Conner could play on Sunday and rush for 150 yards himself. But there certainly seems to be movement among fans, shifting toward Snell as their preference for their new lead back.
Not that that means anything, but the more he shows that he is capable of being the lead back, logic suggests that it’s more likely he ends up serving the role of the lead back. And given Conner’s injury history, it’s not unreasonable to believe there will be an opportunity.