A few weeks ago, Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner was one of a handful of players in attendance for the on-field-workout at a Pittsburgh area high school that featured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger essentially clearing yet another big hurdle in his rehab from the serious elbow injury that he suffered early during the 2019 season. The video of that Roethlisberger throwing session, which also included Steelers wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Ryan Switzer in addition to Conner, immediately went viral. Not long after it did, Conner was asked to give his thoughts on how Roethlisberger looked during a podcast interview with Adam Schefter. On Monday, Conner was once again to comment on Roethlisberger and particularly how his arm looks now, during an appearance on ESPN’s NFL Live show.
“It looks great,” Conner said of Roethlisberger’s arm. “The ball was whistling. He’s confident. I know he worked so hard to get back to where he’s playing confident and so we’re just excited for him. That’s our leader, that’s our guy. Just so thankful that we’ve got our quarterback back and he has Super Bowl rings and that’s what we all want to do.”
After that somewhat abbreviated, yet positive, update on Roethlisberger, Conner was immediately asked if he believes the Steelers quarterback still has what takes to lead the team to potentially another Super Bowl championship. The running back’s response to that question was a predicable one.
“No question about it. No question about it,” Conner said. “Every day that we’re around and we’re together, it just comes off of him and it just comes off as he’s a winner and he wants another one [Super Bowl ring], bad, before whenever he decides to hang it up. I hope it’s not for a while, but he wants another one and I want to be able to get one too. So that’s the only thing that we talk about. That’s our only goal. So, I know he’s ready and he’s going to lead us.”
Many have already rightly theorized that 2020 might be Roethlisberger’s best chance at winning a third Super Bowl championship before he retires due to the amount of carryover this year’s team figures to have on both sides of the football. While Conner is also a carryover from the last several teams, there’s a very good chance that 2020 will ultimately be his final season in Pittsburgh with the team that originally selected him the third-round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of the University of Pittsburgh. With 2020 set to be a huge year for Conner with him potentially winding up an unrestricted free agent in March, the Steelers running back was asked to give his comments on the current running back market. Conner wouldn’t take that media bait, however.
“Man, I’m really just focused on me,” Conner said. “I’ve got so much to give to this team and this 2020 season. Year-by-year I try to show the Steelers that I’m getting better and I’m expanding my game. Nothing will be different this year. So, get a fresh start, go out there and just try to play my best for this team and see what happens after that.”
If Conner, Roethlisberger, and Smith-Schuster can all stay healthy in 2020, the Steelers offense certainly could have a strong rebound from 2019. Until the season gets underway, however, Conner says he and his offensive teammates are listening to what the team’s veteran quarterback tells them when they gather for workouts ahead of the start of next month’s training camp.
“So, we’re listening to everything he says,” Conner said of Roethlisberger. “He’s leading by example by organizing things and so he’s been awesome. I’m excited to get back there and be back there with him.”