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Steelers News: Despite success, James Conner still out to prove his worth

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL: Pro Bowl-AFC Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how James Conner, despite all his success in 2018, is keeping his head down and working as if he still has to prove himself as a starting running back in the NFL.

Let’s get to the news:

Don’t tell James Conner he’s Steelers’ RB of the future

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

The juxtaposition is hard to ignore.

While one Pittsburgh Steelers tailback signed hundreds of autographs and posed with Jim Kelly at the Pro Bowl, the other continued to wait for 2019 free agency amid a bitter divorce from the team.

But James Conner doesn’t exactly feel settled. His 13 touchdowns in 13 games in his first full season as a starter won’t make him ease up. Nor will Le’Veon Bell’s yearlong holdout, which makes Bell likely too caustic for a locker room return.

In efforts to keep the edge that got him this far, Conner will enter his third season with the hunger of a rookie looking for a job.

”You’ve got to earn it every day,” he said in late December when asked if he’s the tailback of the Steelers’ future. “It’s never enough when you think you’ve done enough. That’s when you start to get on the decline. ... You’ve got to earn it every day, practice hard and show you belong. I definitely don’t feel like I’ve done enough yet.”

That’s exactly what the Steelers like to hear, but Conner is selling himself a bit short. From teammates up to ownership, the Steelers have praised Conner’s development in a sophomore season that included 973 rushing yards, 12 rushing TDs and an AFC Offensive Player of the Month award. Conner added 55 catches for 497 yards in a Steelers offense that relied heavily on the back for easy yardage off dump-offs.

A player who struggled with conditioning and blitz pickups as a rookie was more than ready when he showed up for his second training camp.

Center Maurkice Pouncey didn’t hesitate when asked if Conner has done enough to earn the starting job full-time.

”One thousand percent,” Pouncey said. “He’s missed a few games, but his numbers are outstanding. Overall, he’s done everything we’ve asked as far as blocking lanes, picking up blitzes, chipping, running the ball and hitting the right hole. He did a lot of great things. Not that he doesn’t have room to grow, but he’s earned the respect, and he’ll definitely be the No. 1 back.”

(To read more, click the link in the headline...)

Is this finally the year Alan Faneca gets that Hall of Fame call?

By: Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

What does the Pro Football Hall of Fame have against guards?

Coaches have long proclaimed that everything starts in the trenches, but when it comes to the Hall of Fame it certainly does not end there.

Guard is the most underappreciated position in the game when it comes to making the Hall of Fame, and the other offensive line positions are not that far behind.

Alan Faneca is Exhibit A. He’s one of the most decorated and productive guards in the history of the NFL, but the doors in Canton have remained closed to him for the past three years. This will be his fourth time as a finalist when the vote takes place Feb. 2 in Atlanta for this year’s class.

“When you look at the linemen of his era, he did things that Dermonti Dawson was able to do,” said the man who coached both, Bill Cowher. “He could pull, he was great in space, he could anchor.

“When we were a running football team and ran ourselves to a championship, we pretty much ran behind him on the left side and we pulled and ran behind him on the right side.”

Jerome Bettis attests to that.

“I wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame without Alan Faneca,” Bettis said. “He was the best guard that I ever played with, and him pulling made him so much more special than I think all the other guards because his ability to pull and play in space was incredible.

“In pass protection, he did it all. It wasn’t just in the run game.”

(To read more, click the link in the headline...)

Tim Benz: Robey-Coleman’s Patriots yap brings back bad Steelers memories

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

If you think you’ve heard the name Nickell Robey-Coleman before, you have. He’s the Los Angeles Rams defensive back who was deemed to have had perfectly legal coverage on this play in the NFC Championship Game.

After getting away with murder last week, Robey-Coleman is trying to get away with something else this week leading up to the Super Bowl.

Blasphemy. The 27-year-old slot corner says New England quarterback Tom Brady is slipping.

Among other highlights in an extended interview with Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report, Robey-Coleman suggests that “age has taken a toll” on Brady.

On Brady: ”For him to still be doing it, that’s a great compliment for him. But I think that he’s definitely not the same quarterback he was. Movement. Speed. Velocity. Arm strength. He still can sling it, but he’s not slinging it as much. Whatever he was doing — because of his age and all that — he’s not doing as much of that anymore. He’s still doing the same things; he’s just not doing as much of it. And sometimes, it’s not the sharpest. But it still gets done.”

On his “hate” toward the Patriots: Robey-Coleman says it goes back to his previous playing days in Buffalo when he saw the Pats rub an opponent’s nose in defeat with “arrogance.” As he describes it in the link, it’s “a-hole stuff” like going for it up 17 points on 4th and 3.

On how the Super Bowl will go: Dunne writes that Robey-Coleman described the bar fight scene in “A Bronx Tale” when the Italian mobsters beat up a biker gang.

”We kick ‘em out of the bar, beat ‘em up — and the one thing he said, he looked down at a guy and said, ‘I did this to you.’ That’s how I want to feel: I did this to you. I did this to you.”

Oh. So, I guess the Rams are the mobsters in this analogy and Robey-Coleman is Chazz Palminteri?

(To read more, click the link in the headline...)