The Pittsburgh Steelers hit Latrobe for Training Camp as they begin their quest for a seventh Lombardi Trophy. The summer has come and gone (thankfully) with minimal excitement on the Steelers front. A truism of the NFL is that no good news can happen between the end of the Draft and the start of Training Camp. Over that time, most NFL news revolves around players getting suspended or injured. As we prepare for the formal beginning of the Steelers 2019 campaign, we’ll be taking a position-by-position look at the roster. Today we continue with the Running Back core where the biggest change in the locker room will be as former NC State TE/FB coach and Special Teams Coordinator Eddie Faulkner will replace James Saxon this season. Faulkner was a former running back for the University of Wisconsin from 1997-2000. Faulkner also spent time with current running back Jaylen Samuels when he attended NC State.
Other 2019 Training Camp Previews: Defensive Line
By The Numbers
2019 Rushing Yards: 1445 (Rank 31/32)
2019 Rushing Touchdowns: 16 (Rank 7/32)
2019 Rushing Attempts: 345 (Rank 31/32)
2019 Rushing Yards Per Attempt: 4.2 (Rank 24/32)
James Conner (3rd year), Jaylen Samuels (2nd year), Roosevelt Nix (5th year, fullback) Ralph Webb (2nd year), Trey Edmunds (2nd year).
Conner started 12 of 13 games played in 2018, rushing 215 times for 973 yards (4.5 avg) and scoring 12 rushing touchdowns. He added 55 receptions for 497 yards (9.0 avg) and scored once. After Conner’s injury, Samuels took the reins and started three games, but played in 14. Samuels rushed 56 times for 256 yards (4.6 avg) but did not reach the end-zone. Samuels added 26 catches (on 29 targets) for 199 yards (7.7 avg) and scored three times. Nix is a core, dynamic special teams player who adds value as a blocker on offense.
Webb and Edmunds were both mid-season practice squad signings.
Benny Snell Jr. (Rookie), Travon McMillan (UDFA), Malik Williams (2nd year)
The Steelers threw their new positional coach a bone in the 4th round of the draft, surprisingly selecting a running back in Benny Snell Jr. in the fourth round. Snell will bring a bruiser-type back to wear down defenses late in games, as well as spell for goal-line and short yardage carries (look out Conner fantasy football owners). In his final collegiate year, Snell rushed 289 times for 1449 yards (5.0 avg) and 16 touchdowns, also adding in 17 receptions for 105 yards. McMillan was a 1000-yard rusher for the Colorado Buffaloes in his final year of college, scoring 8 total times (7 rush, 1 receiving). Malik Williams was cut by the Atlanta Falcons after a shoulder injury and signed by the Steelers this past February.
The Steelers generally keep three running backs. James Conner is the starter in Pittsburgh no matter what narrative about the running backs come out. Jaylen Samuels has proven to be a reliable backup with a swiss-army knife like skill-set. Both are locks. Benny Snell Jr. was drafted in the fourth round of this year’s draft and is an almost absolute to make the team. After these three, it gets shaky. The Steelers usually only carry three running backs, especially with Roosevelt Nix as a reserve and a lock. If any of the others mentioned want to make this roster, they have to make it impossible for Tomlin to cut them, and add special teams value.