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Benny Snell should be the Steelers starting running back going forward

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Luck is often described as opportunity meeting preparation, and no know one understands that sentiment better than Benny Snell Jr.

In the very first game of just his second NFL season, the former Kentucky Wildcat and current running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers broke loose for a career-outing on the Monday Night Football grandstand. Snell trotted across the New York Giants defense to the tune of 113 rushing yards on 19 carries.

His 113 yards easily broke a previous career-best of 98 while 19 carries was a mere two shy off his high from the 2019 season, but it took another unfortunate injury to the Steelers’ top rusher coming into the year, James Conner, that led to Snell’s breakout night. Conner left in the first half of Week 1 after appearing in just 10 games a season ago due to various injuries. He was tabbed the Steelers “bell cow” on Pittsburgh’s offense long before the opening snap. However, if Snell’s production doesn’t let up and Conner’s ankle doesn’t heal up, the longterm decision becomes obvious: Benny Snell is the future running back of the Pittsburgh franchise–he might actually be the best overall back they have right now.

His hypnotic mouthpiece aside, there is plenty to love about the 2019 fourth-round pick.

“Most of my workload is on special teams so that is what I take my pride in,” Snell said after the game on Monday, according to TribLive. “So whenever my time comes I know it’ll come. Opportunity presented itself tonight, and I was able to get more carries than usual.”

Once Conner went out against the Giants in the second quarter, the Steelers immediately made Snell the go-to back. Up until then, Snell had only been on the field for five plays compared to Conner’s 15. Then there was RB3, Jaylen Samuels, who also saw a couple of snaps before Conner left the field. But with no one in front of him to take his snaps, Snell took command of the running game, as the Steelers ran the ball on 19 of the 26 plays he was on the gridiron, per Pro Football Focus. When Snell was off the field, the Steelers elected to pass the ball on 19 out of 20 plays that Samuels was in for–and he was only targeted once. Snell was the clear favorite following Conner’s departure and the former’s 5.95 yards per carry on Monday proved why.

Snell was doing his damage inside the tackles and out, breaking loose on multiple occasions (although one did result in a fumble). His cutting ability allowed him to slide back into plays, tacking on a few extra yards to those on runs before he ducked his head down and lunged forward with his final burst of speed. He didn’t make it across the endzone line this time, but that will surely come in time with more future reps, especially at the No. 1 back.

Here’s another fun stat, Snell was the only running back from Week 1 to run for two separate plays consisting of at least 20-plus yards. 16 of his 19 total carries went for a positive gain.

His style of play as a power back is impossible to notice, but what might go unseen is his willingness to use that same power in the role of a blocker. Snell played a key role in creating the first touchdown of the night for Pittsburgh, picking up a block on a blitzing Giants linebacker who had a clear line of sight on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Snell made the block and Rothlisberger made a terrific throw to the corner for an easy touchdown.

He’s only 5-foot-10, but Benny Snell comes with intangibles that can’t be taught; no one will outwork this man. He’s been tabbed as the underdog his entire career and is about to get the opportunity of a lifetime. Snell is the best available running back on the Steelers roster and should be the easy pick as the starter going forward.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Recruiting reporter for KSR. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR

9 Comments for Benny Snell should be the Steelers starting running back going forward

  1. bigbluebg
    8:42 pm September 15, 2020 Permalink


  2. mhs1964
    9:05 pm September 15, 2020 Permalink

    I have always loved Snell but let’s not get carried away. One game does not make a season or career. Time will make it apparent or not.

  3. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    11:33 pm September 15, 2020 Permalink

    Keep this up and they’ll be calling them the Big Ben Brothers.

  4. Section233
    12:48 am September 16, 2020 Permalink

    FUMBLE!!! Can’t fumble kid. If he holds on to the ball he’ll be a beast in the league for years to come.

  5. itsfootballtimeinthebluegrass
    1:21 am September 16, 2020 Permalink

    No. You can’t just say he’s better than Connor all of a sudden. Connor had a light ankle sprain and will he back for week 2. Are you slow?

    • BigBlue01
      6:07 am September 16, 2020 Permalink

      Are you slow? JC has not been healthy since the beginning of last season. He is a tough runner with a small frame. That is not a good nfl combo. Snell is the now and the future. He will have some hiccups im sure but after the weight loss and good camp, Snell is leading the charge.

    • BigBlue01
      6:08 am September 16, 2020 Permalink

      *fragile frame.

  6. bigbluebg
    5:57 am September 16, 2020 Permalink

    He’s better than JC.
    He’s bigger and faster now. And soon will be cheaper. You can say this…it’s RB in the NFL, you ride the hot hand.

  7. bbn606
    6:43 am September 16, 2020 Permalink

    With the loss of weight, Snell appeared to be so much quicker and faster. The coach said that Snell had a great camp so I believe he will get all the carries he can handle this year.