With Le’Veon Bell now a member of the New York Jets, the Pittsburgh Steelers running backs all have their own areas where they excel. James Conner, probably the most complete of the Steelers running backs, is best suited for a one-cut downhill style of running attack. In contrast, Jaylen Samuels proved last year he might lead the group in versatility. With the ability to run routes and catch passes out of the backfield, Samuels is a matchup nightmare for the opposition.
Then there is rookie Benny Snell Jr.
Snell Jr. was labeled as a bruising power runner coming out of Kentucky, but after rookie minicamp and Organized Team Activities (OTAs) Snell is out to prove he is more than just a power running back, but an all-around talent to help round out the stable of backs.
“I can block, run, catch; whatever they say, I’ll be happy to do,” Snell told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review after an OTA session. “I want to see the field as soon as possible.”
Maybe Snell is following the path of some of the other rookies in how they are taking a ‘the more you can do’ approach to not just making the 53-man roster, but to seeing the field sooner, rather than later.
Snell, who stands 5-feet 10-inches tall and weighs roughly 245 lbs., set school records running the football, but didn’t do the same catching the ball out of the backfield. In his final year at Kentucky, Snell caught 17 passes for 105 yards. Over this three years in college Snell registered just 29 receptions for a whopping 216 yards and no touchdowns.
Not that this part of his game isn’t strong, maybe just not showcased while in Kentucky, but if Snell wants to see the field as a rookie he will need to show he is capable of pass blocking, catching the ball as well as running the ball effectively at the professional level. Even Snell knows how the game changes from the college level to the NFL, he has seen it already in offseason workouts.
“The game is really fast,” Snell said. “It’s like, you just got to be able to go at your own pace but you have to be able to learn and get better everyday — because if you don’t get better every day, everyone will pass you by. So, it’s really about always learning from each experience.”
For Snell, and the rest of the rookies, the next step in the process is mandatory minicamp on June 11-13, but it is what follows which is the true test. Training Camp. When the pads go on and the cans and cannots are deciphered in front of coaches and fans alike.
I have a feeling Benny Snell Jr. can’t wait for those hot days at Saint Vincent College to prove himself.