The Steelers have a situation on their hands with the Le’Veon Bell situation that is currently happening. They decided to let DeAngelo Williams walk in free agency this offseason due to his age. They wanted to get younger at the running back position and they did just that.
They drafted James Conner with their fourth round compensation pick.
Conner is the former Pitt Panthers running back who battled through more adversity than most players ever see by the age of 25.
Conner tore his MCL in the season opening game against Youngstown State in 2015. It caused him to miss the entire season.
Then, something even worse happened to him.
Conner got a call on Thanksgiving morning that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, the same disease that slowed Penguins great Mario Lemieux.
This all on the shoulders of a college kid.
Conner was cured in time to play when the 2016 season opened. He had three touchdowns against Villanova in the opener and was well on his way to getting drafted.
Now, Conner will play his home games in the same stadium he played at the past four seasons in college for Pitt.
The Steelers have expressed the idea of giving Bell more of a break in the backfield due to his extensive touches last season. His injury against New England in the AFC Championship game has many believing it was attributed to being the workhorse for the team in their first two playoff games. Conner will allow for the Steelers to do that.
It may seem that Conner being drafted by the Steelers was done just for the story. It’s more than that.
The adversity that he’s faced throughout his young years is unmatched. It shows his toughness and his commitment to football as a whole.
The Steelers haven’t been able to rely on Bell to stay on the field due to off the field issues and injuries. He wants $15+ million after turning down a long term deal that would’ve given him $12+ million.
This is where Conner comes into play.
Over the past few years, the Steelers have employed guys such as Williams, Fitzgerald Touissant, and more as their back up running backs. Conner is going to be an unreal change of pace from Bell.
Bell’s shifty and quick feet type of play is hard to stop. Couple that with Conner’s bruising up the middle type of running and it’ll be tough to stop.
Conner also has a bit of speed if he gets an open late or gets the corner. He is someone who will greatly benefit the Steelers this season.
Conner will serve as the perfect third down running back to be able to spell Bell for a down or so.
This was for more than just the story. This is the prototypical Pittsburgh Steelers running back.