PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) - Second-year running back Benny Snell Jr became the next man up for the Steelers when James Conner, Mike Tomlin's anointed "bell cow" back was forced to leave the season-opening 26-16 win over the Giants with an ankle injury after only six carries.
Snell did not disappoint.
On a night that Conner gained nine yards and Giants' star Saquon Barkley gained six, Snell rushed for a career-high 113 yards on 19 attempts.
"The opportunity presented itself tonight, and I was able to get more carries than usual," Snell said. "Going into games, I really don't have a mindset of what type of plays I'll get on offense. Most of my workload is on special teams, so that's where I take my pride. Whenever my time comes on offense, it will come."
Snell was quick to credit his linemen for opening holes for him.
"The o line is outstanding," Snell said. "Across the board, those guys deserve all the credit."
Already missing Pro Bowl right guard David DeCastro due to a knee injury, the Steelers lost two linemen in the fourth quarter, right tackle Zach Banner and DeCastro's replacement Stefen Wisniewski. Banner suffered a knee injury and Wisniewski a pectoral injury, according to Tomlin. Both players were still being evaluated when Tomlin met with reporters.
Snell's previous best rushing performance came last November when he rushed for 98 yards against the Bengals. It was part of an up-and-down rookie campaign. While the coaching staff and front office talked up Conner during the off-season, Snell went about his business preparing to be better.
"I worked hard, and I did what the Steelers told me to do."
Based on game one, both player and team benefited greatly from that approach.