Now that training camp is over with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Pittsburgh and gearing up for what they hope will be a much more productive season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of training camp and the preseason and the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: RB Benny Snell Jr.
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The veteran running back had only played three offensive snaps on the season prior to last night’s game without getting a touch. He ended up playing a lead role after Najee Harris went down with an abdominal injury and ran well, finding the end zone for the first time since 2020 and positively contributing to a Steelers win.
The fact that Benny Snell Jr. played a prominent role last night couldn’t be a complete shock since we knew that Jaylen Warren would not be playing as he works his way back from an injury. We obviously couldn’t have predicted Najee Harris exiting the game with an abdominal injury of his own, however.
A former fourth-round pick out of Kentucky, the fourth-year back looked the most comfortable he has in a game since 2020. The drafting of Harris in 2021 and establishing him as an every-down back left Snell with little to work with and he proved incapable of providing quality snaps on small workloads.
Perhaps then it’s no surprise that he looked the best he has in years in his most extensive work in years. He had 12 carries during the game for 62 yards, including a game-long 16-yard rush. He provided the Steelers with the game-winning touchdown with under four minutes to go as well. And he added a six-yard reception just for good measure.
The team as a whole rushed for 172 yards on the night, with Snell providing the largest slice of the pie. Harris picked up 35 on 10 carries before exiting, but another unheralded back, Anthony McFarland Jr., chipped in 30 on six rushes. Quarterback Kenny Pickett added 32, giving them four players with 30-plus yards on the ground.
With both Harris and Warren nursing injuries at the moment, there’s a reasonable chance that we see Snell get some more touches next week. Coming off of a Monday night game only increases the odds of us seeing some more Benny Snell Football™ before we say farewell to 2022.