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Exclusive with Steelers Running Back Benny Snell

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Our Ron Lippock spoke with Steelers fourth-round pick, running back Benny Snell, about training camp, which veterans are helping, how he fits the Steelers’ offense and much more.

First, can you let us know how camp has been going so far?

It’s been going pretty good so far. The environment is cool. The vets have been helping me a lot and treating me like a little brother.

Right now, the big learning curve is just adjusting to how fast things are going. It’s much faster than college. It’s tougher to get adjusted. But I can see it getting better already.

Who are the vets that have been helping you, and how?

The main guys have been James Conner and JaySam [Jaylen Samuels] a little bit. It’s just really critiquing my reps. Helping me out with tips. Honestly, the big thing, the big adjustment is about just getting comfortable. Not overthinking things. Just playing football like I’m used to playing it.

What’s been the biggest difference in the playbook between college and the NFL?

At Kentucky we used a lot of hand signals. We could look at the sidelines and register the play and have time to adjust. Here it’s a much bigger playbook and it’s all called in the huddle, then you rush to the line. In college I could look over and think about things, but you don’t have time to do that now.

What are some of the areas on the passing game you need to work on or feel most comfortable with?

In pass-pro (pass protection), I feel like I can block the linebacker or safety. That’s no problem for me. I definitely need to work on my route-running and catching. But I’ve been working on that all summer and think I’m improving already.

I think my role will be wherever I’m needed though: running the ball, in pass-pro, special teams, protecting the quarterback. I just want to show them what I can bring to the team and do differently than someone else.

Do you feel you’re running style — wearing guys down –- that it’s harder to excel in that area with fewer reps per game? Or doesn’t that matter?

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I feel like my role, my skillset, I can be used whenever the time comes and I’m needed. I can wear down defenses whenever I get the ball. It’s just a matter of the coaches letting me in, and if I’m successful, keeping me in. In tough situations like third and two or fourth and one, I expect the coach to lean on me. But I have to earn that respect and those reps. I look forward to that.

Stepping back, were you surprised the Steelers took you in the draft?

To be honest I met with every team at the combine and had a specific meeting with the Steelers. The vibe was great and I think they loved me as a player. I met coach (Mike) Tomlin, the running backs coach, offensive coordinator, the weight room coach. … We talked football and watched film. It was a great coaching staff. So when I got the call, I was surprised, but I felt comfortable and happy getting drafted by them.

A lot of money and attention coming your way now. How do you keep that from being a distraction and adjust to it all?

I’m getting that money and attention but I know this is my job now. I take full consideration of that and stay true to myself. I’ve gone out to eat once and to the mall once, and everyone recognized me when I did. They knew who I was. But I’m not a going-out kind of guy. I like to stay in and play video games more.

You’ve already gathered a bit of a cult following – what about you and your personality do you think has attracted fans to you so quickly?

I think it’s the style of football I play on the field, and off the field how I express and present myself to people. Some people run from the media and the attention. I’m an open book. I’m living my dream. This is what I do. I’m happy to be here. Some don’t like this part of the game and shy away from it, but I have fun with it.

Lastly – what else do you enjoy doing when you’re not playing football?

I have to say, I’m a Call of Duty God. I rule Call of Duty. I win a lot. I also like to play soccer here and there.

I have a lot of business moves coming up too. Snell Ya is my company, and I want to change the places I’ve come from and been in, like Ohio and Kentucky, and Pittsburgh too once I explored more of it. There’s a long list of things in store!

Ron Lippock is the author of Steelers Takeaways and has interviewed over 650 past and present Steelers players, coaches and personnel. You can purchase his book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Steelers-Takeaways-Memories-Through-Decades/dp/1681570076

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