Conner ran once for nine yards in Sunday's win over the Vikings. Through two games, the rookie running back has provided little more than to give Le'Veon Bell a chance to catch his breath, running five times for 20 yards. That role is not likely to change any time soon, but Conner's value comes as a handcuff to Bell, who has missed 14 games over the past three seasons.
Conner rushed for 11 yards on four carries during Sunday's win over Cleveland. Despite a strong preseason showing, the rookie back figured to remain in the periphery come the regular season because of the typical dominance of Le'Veon Bell. That wasn't the case on Sunday as Bell was held to a career-low 47 yards while working back from an offseason spent away from the team. At some point, it's likely that Bell will return to his old self, but Conner may have a role in letting the star ease back to his normal snap count.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he's comfortable using Conner as a complement to Le'Veon Bell in Sunday's opener against the Browns, Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went a step farther, saying he anticipates Conner getting "quite a few carries" because the team isn't quite sure what kind of football shape Bell will be in. Pittsburgh's star back is still a good bet to rank among the Week 1 leaders in touches, but he may not quite be ready to handle the kind of massive play count that became his norm last season, when he logged 94 percent or more of the offensive snaps in 10 of 12 appearances. Conner is still best viewed as a top-notch handcuff and little more.
The Steelers cut Fitzgerald Toussaint, Knile Davis and Trey Williams on Saturday, leaving Conner and Terrell Watson as the only running backs behind Le'Veon Bell, the team's official site reports. It was a bit surprising to see the Steelers part ways with Toussaint, considering Conner and Watson are both power backs with limited pass-catching skills. The team could still bring in another runner or even re-sign Toussaint, but it does seem Conner is on track to open the season as the top backup and preferred handcuff to Le'Veon Bell. The 2017 third-round pick took 24 carries for 124 yards during the preseason, while Watson had 37 for 173 and a score.
Conner rushed four times for 26 yards in Saturday's 19-15 preseason loss to the Colts. The rookie came nowhere close to matching last week's breakout performance (20 rushes, 98 yards), but he also saw significantly less opportunity. Conner still turned in an impressive 6.5 yards per carry while seeing action on the Steelers' first possession of the second half. The 2017 third-round pick looks set to open the season as Le'Veon Bell's primary backup, provided the latter reports to the team no later than Sept. 1 as previously stated.
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|6||10/15||@Kansas City Chiefs||25||19.00|
|12||11/27||Green Bay Packers||20||18.00|
|15||12/17||New England Patriots||32||32.00|
|3 Year Avg||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|