Former Pitt running back James Conner reported to training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, with the other members of the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, and a few hours after his arrival, he received an accolade for his contributions to the team in 2018, as he was included in the NFL Top 100 player ranking at No. 62.
”That’s a man’s [running] back right there,” Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett said of Conner in an NFL Network interview. “He runs it kind of old school. He doesn’t try to make you miss. He’s just trying to run through you. You know, he’ll try to steal from you, get around you. But the best way is to go straight through someone, and that’s his mentality.”
Conner enjoyed a breakout season in 2018, as he stepped in for former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell during the star’s prolonged contract dispute and absence. In that time, he was able to rack up 973 rushing yards, 497 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns.
In addition, the rift between Bell and the Steelers over Bell’s contract was never resolved, and he became a free agent on March 13. At that point, he was signed to a four-year, $52.5 million contract by the New York Jets, making Conner the Steelers’ presumptive starter at running back moving forward.
If Conner once again makes it out of the preseason at the top of the team’s pecking order at running back, as he is generally expected to, he will have an opportunity to not only maintain his status, but climb the ranks of the NFL Top 100 ranking.