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Steelers News: It is time for James Conner to finally start vs. the Patriots

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

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers just wrapped up the NFL preseason which means the exhibition games are over. This means the regular season is almost here, and the news surrounding the black-and-gold is starting to heat up. As the team prepares for the coming season, we continue to provide you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over until the season starts!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how James Conner, who was injured vs. the Patriots in 2017, will finally get his shot at starting vs. New England in Week 1.

Let’s get to the news:

  • James Conner has to be chomping at the bit to play Sunday night. After injuring his knee, and ending his rookie season early, in 2017 vs. New England, Conner will get a chance to start vs. the Patriots for the first time in Week 1.

Finally, Steelers’ James Conner gets his chance to start against Patriots

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be playing their third game against the New England Patriots since James Conner was drafted in 2017.

For Conner, the season opener Sunday night at Gillette Stadium will represent his first career start against the Steelers’ long-time nemesis.

Conner was a backup to Le’Veon Bell when the Steelers lost, 27-24, to the Patriots at Heinz Field in 2017. Last season, the Steelers rebounded with a 17-10 victory, but Conner was nursing an injury and watched Jaylen Samuels rush for 142 yards against the Patriots.

“I’m excited about the opportunity we have,” Conner said Thursday. “There’s a great opportunity ahead. I’m excited to play some football.”

Conner’s experience against the Patriots consists of nine snaps in the 2017 game. He carried three times for 13 yards.

The game against New England was one of three that Conner sat out last season, and it likely cost him a shot at a 1,000-yard season. He finished with 973 yards rushing and caught 55 passes for 497 yards.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Will the lack of Rob Gronkowski in the Patriots’ lineup alter the approach the Steelers have to defending them?

Tim Benz: How Steelers should prepare for post-Gronkowski Patriots

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Steelers have assembled a defense that features a reasonable replica of Ryan Shazier in Devin Bush. A linebacker with a safety background in Mark Barron. An athletic strong safety in Terrell Edmunds, who is combining raw talent with a year of seasoning. And a nickel safety in Kameron Kelly, who has the size, length and speed that could’ve, at least theoretically, matched up with the New England Patriots monster tight end.

It’s almost enough to make you wish Gronkowski hadn’t retired, right?

“Thank God he’s not there,” Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward said Monday.

OK, never mind. Forget I asked.

Heyward is right. There will be other good tight ends on the schedule the Steelers can challenge with this new defensive look. Better to just keep ol’ No. 87 in mothballs.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Playing the Patriots is like a chess match, but the Steelers have some new pieces at their disposal.

Steelers come to Tom Brady chess match with versatile pieces

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has observed this year’s Steelers defense only from a distance, but he sees what Pittsburgh fans observed all training camp:

More linebacker speed with Devin Bush and Mark Barron. An improving Terrell Edmunds in his second year. Ample pass-rushers.

And that’s on top of what it could do last year.

“We couldn’t score on them last year, so obviously it’s a big challenge for us,” said Belichick about the Patriots’ 17-10 loss at Pittsburgh in Week 15 last season.

Steelers defenders feel there’s something different about this group, which has an infusion of speed and hybrid options to match wits with Tom Brady and Belichick in Gillette Stadium. Brady never has lost to the Steelers at home.

The Steelers might finally have the defensive depth to change that trend.

”We’ve got to be the most physical team, the most dominant team when we step on the field,” Pittsburgh defensive end Cameron Heyward said.

That means combating Brady when he tries to dominate before the snap.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • James Conner media session

  • Social Media Madness