Mental Reps Played Key Role In Benny Snell Jr.’s Big Performance On Monday Night Football

After being passed by rookie undrafted free agent Jaylen Warren during training camp, relegating him to the No. 3 running back role and a key piece on special teams, Benny Snell Jr. rarely got much work in throughout the season as a true running back.

Still quite capable of being a lead back in a committee-style backfield, Snell was able to bide his time throughout the first 11 weeks of the 2022 season before seizing advantage of a “battlefield promotion” — as Mike Tomlin said — on Monday Night Football against the Indianapolis Colts, taking over for the injured Najee Harris around halftime and turning in one of the best performances of his career.

Already down Warren heading into the game, Snell and third-year running back Anthony McFarland had to carry the load on the ground once Harris went down. Thanks to Snell, the Steelers were able to grind down the Colts’ defense, allowing Snell to rush for 62 yards and the game-winning touchdown on just 12 carries.

While he’s had plenty of snaps in the NFL as a lead running back dating back to the 2019 season, Snell needed to be dusted off and brought down off the top shelf against the Colts. To his credit, he delivered in a big way.

Speaking with Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Chris Adamski Wednesday from inside the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex’s locker room, Snell credited his success to being prepared through mental reps all season long, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

“Really, it was just a mental thing,” Snell said to Adamski, according to video via the reporters’ Twitter page. “Going over film, a lot of mental reps when you’re watching in practice, seeing what read I would make, what cut would I make? A lot of that.”

As the No. 3 running back throughout the season, reps were rather limited for Snell behind Harris and Warren during the week leading up to games. In fact, the only real practice reps he’d get would be on the scout team or on special teams, where he handles a significant load for the Steelers.

At running back though, the reps just aren’t there, which made his mental reps each and every day all the more important. Of course, Snell saw an increase in practice reps leading up to the game against the Colts due to Warren’s injury, but after being on the shelf much of the season, his performance against the Colts was nothing short of remarkable.

With Warren cleared to play and expected back Sunday against the Falcons and Harris dealing with an abdominal injury that could force him out of action, Snell could be in line for more reps and another opportunity to grab the bull by the horns and run with it. That will be another chance for those mental reps to pay off, should the need arise for Benny Snell Football once again.

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