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Isaac Bennett to be ready for Pitt-Delaware opener, talks new role as third-down back

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Some pretty significant news dropped on Wednesday regarding Pitt running back Isaac Bennett.

For starters, Bennett is expected to be ready for the Panthers' opener against Delaware. "Oh, I am ready," declared Bennett. "I am ready to be out there with my team; it is always a great pleasure, especially it being my senior year." In fact, he said there was never any doubt about him being ready according to him.

"No, I never thought that. I was always confident. I prayed. I came in every day and had the trainers get me right, so I knew I would always be playing against Delaware."

Bennett is recovering from shoulder surgery and the team has taken their time with him. He's been limited in training camp, so he's definitely had some time to heal.

Then, there was news about Bennett's role this season. Head coach Paul Chryst is planning to use him as a third-down back, according to the running back.

"The coaches see me as the third-down back," he said. "But all of us can play all the downs. We are all confident and we all know the plays, so whoever gets thrown in there will be ready to go."

While it's true that Bennett can play other downs, this is a clear indication that the job is James Conner's to lose. Bennett started last season, but those days appear over for now.

It's difficult to argue with the decision. Bennett wasn't bad last season, and his yard-per-carry average was nearly identical to Conner's. Still, Conner shows more upside and ending the season the way he did in the bowl game against Bowling Green, it's easy to see why he's getting first crack at the job.

Hopefully Bennett can stay healthy and fresh because there were times last season when Conner struggled. They may need him to play more than a third-down role at times.

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