5 Steelers players who could be in final year with the team

JuJu Smith-Schuster Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
JuJu Smith-Schuster Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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James Conner Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

James Conner

James Conner was a great story coming out of college. He played at Pittsburgh University and was a very good running back in college.

Conner fought and beat cancer to come back and play his senior season. His story got even better for him when he was drafted by the Steelers in 2017.

Conner backed up Le’Veon Bell in his rookie season and saw limited usage as Bell racked up the majority of the running back duties. He saw just 32 carries in 2017 but his time would come in his second season.

With the Le’Veon Bell holdout in full swing, Conner took over the lead back role in 2018. He did not disappoint rushing for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding 457 yards receiving and a touchdown.

The Steelers seemed to have found a quality replacement for Bell and when he eventually left for New York in the offseason, Conner was now the permanent bell-cow for the offense.

Much like JuJu, 2019 was not kind to Conner. He battled injuries and failed to gain 500 yards rushing. His receiving contributions also went down but he was utilized in both facets when healthy.

The problem most fans have with him is his injury history. There is no doubt that, when healthy, Conner possesses the ability to be a starting back and handle the load.

Conner, much like JuJu, will have to show his injuries are behind him and he can be more like his 2018 season than his 2019 season. If he cannot do that, the Steelers may turn to Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell, and newly drafted Anthony McFarland to shoulder the duties beyond 2020.