ShareThis Page
Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger: Steelers RB James Conner could split carries with Le'Veon Bell

Kevin Gorman
| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, 11:54 a.m.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger escapes the rush against the Falcons in the second quarter Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger escapes the rush against the Falcons in the second quarter Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 at Heinz Field.
Steelers running back James Conner avoids the Falcons' Jordan Richards in the first quarter Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back James Conner avoids the Falcons' Jordan Richards in the first quarter Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 at Heinz Field.
The Steelers' James Conner celebrates a run against the Falcons in the first quarter Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' James Conner celebrates a run against the Falcons in the first quarter Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 at Heinz Field.

Ben Roethlisberger continued to praise James Conner for his role as the Pittsburgh Steelers running back in place of Le’Veon Bell, going so far as to say that the statistics don’t tell the entire story.

Where Roethlisberger said on his radio show on 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday that Conner “shouldn’t be put on the shelf” when Bell returns, the Steelers quarterback said on Wednesday that he doesn’t know how he’d split carries between the backs, if Bell returns and signs his franchise tag tender.

“It’s a good thing I’m not the coach,” Roethlisberger said, with a laugh. “I don’t know. I think James has done some amazing things and deserves to be on the football field. We also know what Le’Veon is and what he brings to the table. I guess we’ll cross that bridge if and when it happens.”

Roethlisberger believes the Steelers could split carries between the running backs to keep both fresh, as Bell compiled a career-high 406 touches last season and complained about concerns of wear and tear.

Conner has 106 touches through the first five games, on pace for 339. Bell had 336 in 12 games in 2016.

“That’s important. You hate to wear one guy down,” Roethlisberger said. “You saw last week, James would go for awhile and then (Stevan) Ridley would come in and get some blows. I think that would be important when Le’Veon does come back, that those guys stay really fresh when they’re on the field.”

Conner is averaging more yards per carry (4.1) than Bell (3.64) did through the first give games last season, as well as more yards per reception (10.9 to Bell’s 5.33). Bell, however, finished with 1,291 rushing yards and nine touchdowns and 85 receptions for 655 yards and two touchdowns last season.

But Conner has 342 yards and five touchdowns on 84 carries and 22 receptions for 239 yards. Although he’s had a pair of 100-yard rushing performances – 110 against Atlanta on Sunday and 135 at Cleveland in the opener – Conner has a combined 97 rushing yards (on 32 carries) in the three games against Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Baltimore.

Roethlisberger wouldn’t call that an up-and-down season.

“I don’t know that there’s been much downs,” Roethlisberger said. “I guess you could say in terms of rushing yards. But if you look at the overall picture of what we’ve asked him to do every week, I think it’s been going up every week. That’s what gets lost in what a running back and what he’s been doing, pass blocking, picking up the blitz, catching the ball out of the backfield.

“I don’t want to jinx anything but he’s catching almost everything I’ve thrown to him and he’s in the right spot every time quickly. We talk in terms of yards rushing, we may see and up and down, but in terms of football player and running back play, it’s been going up every week.”

Hey, Steelers Nation, get the latest news about the Pittsburgh Steelers here.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me