Regardless of one’s opinion on the state of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ running game, the team cannot be accused of failing to invest in the position. They have drafted four running backs between the third and fifth rounds over the course of the past four years, including Anthony McFarland this year, and they also just brought in a new fullback in Derek Watt.
While James Conner, the third-round pick in 2017, remains the lead back, however, there is growing excitement and anticipation in seeing what Benny Snell can offer in year two after being taken in the fourth round in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The man who came in introducing his game as “Benny Snell Football” has perhaps tempered his persona some since his rookie year, exchanging it for something of a more businesslike approach that nevertheless continues to embrace his love for the game, but his focus is strictly on getting better and becoming a better performer for his team.
“I think that Benny Snell has had an awesome camp as a second-year runner and kind of has shown signs of preparedness in that way”, head coach Mike Tomlin said earlier this evening while speaking to Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller on SiriusXM Radio.
As a rookie in 2019, Snell was put into a tough spot due to Conner missing an extended amount of time. By the end of the year, he accumulated 108 carries for 426 yards, scoring twice on the ground. And the vast bulk of this actually came following a clean-up procedure on his knee that cost him three games.
This year, he has reported to training camp in great shape, in spite of the fact that he did not have the benefit of working on his conditioning inside the team’s facilities, as would ordinarily be the case. That is just a further sign of his individual commitment to better himself as a football player.
Overall, Tomlin said that he was very pleased with the progress that the whole second-year class has shown, from Diontae Johnson and Devin Bush to Ulysees Gilbert III and Isaiah Buggs, all of whom may play a role at some point over the course of the 2020 season.
Somewhere around the middle of the year, Snell stopped using the term Benny Snell Football to talk about his game, telling reporters that he didn’t want it to get misconstrued as something arrogant or nonchalant.
Nevertheless, I’m sure to this day you’ll hear Tomlin yelling that phrase on the practice field at Snell whenever he has the ball. It’s a way of reminding him that there’s a standard of play for him to live up to, one that he helped build for himself. So far, the results have been positive, and this year promises even better.