Steelers’ Benny Snell prepared for increased role
Get ready for some Benny Snell football on “NBC Sunday Night Football.”
Snell, the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back, moved up the depth chart a notch because of the knee injury to No. 2 running back Jaylen Samuels. Snell is expected to play a complementary role to starter James Conner for the 8:20 p.m. game at the Los Angeles Chargers.
“I’m here to fill my role. I will do my best,” said Snell, the Steelers’ fourth-round pick. “I feel like at this point I have been prepared by James and J-Sam; they prepared me.”
Snell had a school-record 3,873 rushing yards over three seasons at Kentucky. But he has played just 12 offensive snaps this season, none of which came during last week’s game against Baltimore.
Snell has served as a “core four” special-teamer over the past four games, playing on the kickoff coverage and return and punt coverage and return teams. Coach Mike Tomlin, unsolicited, praised Snell’s work on special teams, saying it “has been really impressive.”
“And usually production in special teams is an indication of offense and defensive readiness,” Tomlin said.
Snell said he’s embraced special teams play and how it has prepared him for a bigger role on offense.
“Every day I come to my job, it’s fun every day,” Snell said. “I just come in and do what I love.”
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 15, 2019
Snell has six carries for 30 yards and has been targeted (unsuccessfully) by one pass this season; 23 of those rushing yards came during one Week 2 rush. During the preseason, he gained 54 yards on 28 carries.
Combining the preseason and regular season, Snell has 34 carries — 14 have netted 1 or fewer yards and 20 have netted 2 or fewer yards. That 23-yard carry against the Seattle Seahawks is one of only three Snell pre- or regular-season carries that have gained more than 4 yards.
But with Snell taking Samuels’ place in the offense, could he also take his place in the wildcat? Particularly with the Steelers down to a No. 3 quarterback, it’s possible they will resort to more offensive gimmickry of the sort.
So, will we see Snell maybe attempt a pass?
“You never know,” Snell said with a grin.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .