In efforts to keep the edge that got him this far, James Conner will enter his third season with the hunger of a rookie looking for a job.
"You've got to earn it every day," he said in late December when asked if he's the tailback of the Steelers' future. "It's never enough when you think you've done enough. That's when you start to get on the decline. ... You've got to earn it every day, practice hard and show you belong. I definitely don't feel like I've done enough yet."
Related players: LeVeon Bell
The story said that's exactly what the Steelers like to hear, but Conner is selling himself a bit short. From teammates up to ownership, the Steelers have praised Conner's development in a sophomore season that included 973 rushing yards, 12 rushing TDs and an AFC Offensive Player of the Month award. Conner added 55 catches for 497 yards in a Steelers offense that relied heavily on the back for easy yardage off dump-offs. The story added Conner struggled with conditioning and blitz pickups as a rookie but was more than ready when he showed up for his second training camp. Of course, it's expected Bell will not be back with the Steelers in 2019, so as of now, Conner seems set to be the team's RB1 heading into 2019.