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2018 Steelers Training Camp Player Preview – James Conner

July 10, 2018
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2018 Steelers Training Camp Player Preview – James Conner

New body, new mindset, new season. For second-year running back James Conner, this coming training camp represents a new beginning. After a season that was marred with injuries, the only thing that has been on Conner’s mind since his season-ending surgery is redemption. During OTAs, Conner mentioned about taking as many repetitions as he could; at the same time, he noted about taking things “one game at a time” and showing up. Considering the ongoing contract dispute with All-pro Le’veon Bell and Steelers management, this coming training camp presents the opportunity for Conner to take advantage of Bell’s imminent holdout, and take the spotlight.

Chances of Making The Roster

The question for Conner is not whether he can make the roster, rather it is about how he can establish himself as the preminent backup running back. For Conner to achieve this, it starts with diversifying his skillset. Conner back nature is a traditional downhill, thump-type runner that thrives on yards after contact. With a trimmer frame, Conner is seemingly taking the same approach Bell did a few seasons back, and ready to display that he is more than just a traditional runner.

Firstly, this begins with improved lateral movement. One of his noted weaknesses was his lack of elusivity. For Conner, it would be in his best interest to incorporate more cuts; the change could make him a more efficient runner. The second aspect that Conner needs to display is improved hands. The more productive running backs in today’s NFL, are also proficient at catching passes. In looking at the current running back roster, the Steelers have two running backs apart from Bell, with dual threat skill; Jaylen Samuels, Stevan Ridley, and Fitzgerald Toussaint. Conner has long ways to go before he can someday become the team’s premier running back.  Yet with all the work invested in the offseason, Conner is ready to erase memories of last year’s disappointments, and begin a new chapter in his professional career.

Kelly Anozie http://www.pittsburgh-blitz.com

Born and raised Ottawa, Ontario Canada, Kelly is a Steelers contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. Formerly a contributor for SBNation's 'Behind the Steel Curtain'. Kelly can be reached via the Twitter handle @kanozie80

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2 Comments

  1. The Steelers have their future in Conner and Jaylen Samuels. Between the two, they can carry the load. No need to over pay Bell now.

    • Kelly Anozie

      That remains to be seen at this point. Conner needs to stay healthy and improve; Samuels at this point needs to get through training camp healthy, as the Steelers generally have the most physical training camps in the NFL. Samuels though will interesting, as he was generally positioned everywhere; slot receiver, fullback, tight end and running back. So they’re gonna have to find out exactly how and when to use him.

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