Benny Snell established himself as the Steelers’ No. 1 running back.
The return of Ben Roethlisberger and the sensational play of rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool both were storylines to watch out for as the Pittsburgh Steelers made their 2020 debut, but few could’ve expected a changing of the guard at running back to be the main offensive catalyst for Mike Tomlin during the Steelers’ win over the New York Giants.
Snell, not James Conner, was Pittsburgh’s bell cow, running for 113 yards on just 19 carries in Pittsburgh’s victory. While the increased role was due to a Conner injury, Pittsburgh might be forced to go back to Snell as the starter next week against the Denver Broncos.
Benny Snell ran aggressively after James Conner picked up another injury
Despite an extremely productive college career for one of the best teams in the history of Kentucky football, the Steelers were able to snatch up Snell in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft due to concerns about his speed. After he slimmed down in the offseason, it appears Pittsburgh wasn’t bluffing when they were talking up how they were going to ride their bowling ball of a running back this season.
Not only is Conner a less explosive runner than Snell, but he will be a free agent at the end of this year and has legitimate durability concerns that seem to manifest every season. Should Snell also avoid the injury problems that have sapped Conner’s effectiveness, his north-south style of running paired with his own improved quickness should help the Steelers have more balance than years past, wherein Big Ben had to throw it 50 times every game.
WIth Snell on his rookie contract for three more years, the Steelers appear to have already found their perfect Conner replacement. While he will go up against several tough defenses over the next few weeks, he has the skills to plow through them.