James Connor is a great story. Pete. He survived cancer. We’ve heard the story fifteen times and it’s really inspiring. Connor even wrote a book.
But the Steelers must continue from Connor as their number one runner.
Connor left the game on Monday at the New York Giants in the second quarter with an ankle problem. He had six carts for 9 yards.
Connor was suspended from six games last season due to injury. In 1
This is simply unacceptable. Deprives the disorder of continuity and rhythm.
Connor will recover. He can still write another convincing chapter. He may be included in the second edition of his book.
But the time has come for Benny Snell and Connor’s football to be reserved. This suggests that Connor’s fragile body can handle even that.
Snell stepped out of the bench on Monday and made that decision obvious, although what coach Mike Tomlin ultimately did is far from certain.
Snell had 113 yards on 19 runs. This year, he received as many 100-yard games as Connor throughout 2019. Snell’s 30-yard survey in the last quarter created Steelers’ latest and compelling touchdown.
Snell was duly noted – JuJu Smith-Schuster saved him with a heads-up recovery worthy of TikTok – Snell ran well and well. He is only 5 feet-10, but he has strength.
More importantly, it is not always lame. When Snell comes down, he gets up. Snell has one key capability that Conner does: Availability.
Connor was selected for the third round in 2017. Snell was in the fourth round last season. The difference in genealogy is insignificant. Conner is a better receiver than Snell and is good in a blitz pickup. But none of that matters if Connor can’t play.
Connor’s body may be vulnerable to cancer treatment. But that’s not Steelers’ concern. Can not be. This is the insensitive truth of life in the NFL.
Doesn’t Connor want to play through pain? Is he physically able to pursue a career in professional football? These questions can be asked reasonably.
When Connor was injured Monday on top of his recent past with injuries, the only two words that describe the situation are: Enough already. Connor is the footballer Bo Bennett. (Sorry, Beau.)
If Connor was healthy in this, the last season of his contract, the Steelers would probably find a way to keep him. Steelers like the man, they like the story and they like the player when he’s healthy.
But it’s over. It has to be. Connor can’t be trusted.
Ben Retlisberger can be.
After a misguided start, Roethlisberger repulsed the rust with a two-minute eight-game practice, 78 yards (85 seconds to be precise) at the end of the first half, and never looked back.
He had a zipper on the ball. The elbow looks good. If Roethlisberger hasn’t made all the throws, he will.
The receiving situation is convincing. Depth was shown, even if the new tight end of Eric Ebron was slightly quiet and rookie Chase Claypool (who made the best catch of the night, the 28-yard foot in the sideline in the first quarter) seemed a bit utilized.
James Washington used a second (perhaps third) effort for a touchdown catch and kick that brought the Steelers forward forever.
But the main receiving components were Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson.
Smith-Schuster had six catches and two results. His recovery was a saving game. Most importantly, he was on fire. Liti, even.
Johnson had a rough start: He muffled a first-quarter shot that gave the Giants the Pittsburgh 3 ball. He and Roethlisberger seemed to be using different playbooks early in the game.
But Johnson settled in, impressing with his resilience and finishing with six catches for 57 yards on 10 high-team teams. He is not Antonio Brown, but Johnson can still take on the old role of Brown and provide Rotlisberger with a rhythm receiver that Smith-Schuster can complement.
Mark Madden Colonies Sports Steelers / NFL