Mike Tomlin James Conner
Mike Tomlin says James Conner is the bell cow back. Are we sure the Steelers will ride him til the wheels fall off? (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Mike Tomlin Says James Conner Is The Steelers Bell Cow

What will the Steelers backfield look like for the 2020 season? Historically over the years, this franchise has liked to ride the hands of one back. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to change. Mike Tomlin came out and said James Conner is the bell cow. They’re going to ride him until the wheels fall off.

“There is no question about who our bell cow is,” Tomlin said Tuesday, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Our bell cow is James Conner, and he is our primary ball-toter.”

I’ve been hesitant to draft James Conner, who was night and day a different guy in 2019 compared to 2018.

2018: 973 rushing yards, rushing 12 TDs, 55 catches, and 497 receiving yards.

2019: 464 rushing yards, rushing 4 TDs, 34 receptions, 251 receiving yards.

The difference is health. Conner missed three games in 2018 and six games in 2019. However, Conner felt hurt even when he played in 2019. Conner is a very good running back. But he needs to stay on the field. It sounds like Tomlin plans to ride Conner until he crashes.

Pittsburgh quietly has good running back depth. Jaylen Samuels is sort of a swiss army knife that can do work as a full back and or pass catcher. Benny Snell has a build similar to Conner and has come into camp this year looking better. For those who follow my draft coverage know, I’m a believer in Anthony McFarland.

Conner feels very much like a wildcard to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these guys lead the team in rushing.