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Steelers All 91: RB James Conner

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All 91 is a Pittsburgh Steelers Now series profiling each of the 91 members of the Steelers 2019 training camp roster.

30 • James Conner, third-year running back

Last year: Played in 13 games and made 12 starts in his second NFL season and his first as the team’s primary rusher after Le’Veon Bell never signed his contract.

Stats: Maintained his 4.5 yards per carry average from his rookie year, but did so on a much larger scaled. He had 215 carries for 973 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.

Conner also hauled in 55 passes out of 71 targets and scored one receiving touchdown.

Accolades, Highlights:

Made his first Pro Bowl in 2018. Was No. 62 on the NFL Top 100.

James Conner Lands at No. 62 on NFL Top 100

Camp outlook: The Steelers expect to have a more-balanced offense in 2019, so that will mean more from the running backs, but with the addition of Benny Snell and the team more comfortable with the play of Jaylen Samuels going into 2019, those extra carries aren’t going to be guaranteed for Conner.

Projected role: Conner will be the Steelers’ primary early-down ball carrier, at times playing in twin-tailback sets with Samuels. Third downs are less clear.

Coverage links:

James Conner not Resting after Breakout 2018

James Conner Stars In New Adidas Ad, But Remains a Reluctant Star

Double Trouble? Steelers Working Conner, Samuels Together at RB as Part of NFL-Wide Trend

James Conner Not Taking No. 1 Spot for Granted

James Conner Wins Dapper Dan Award

The rest of the 91:

Steelers

Steelers to Host ex-Vikings OT Aviante Collins for Visit

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The Steelers will host free agent tackle Aviante Collins for a visit, according to the NFL transactions page for Thursday.

Collins, 27, spent the last four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings after joining the team as an undrafted free agent out of TCU in 2017.

Collins played in three games in 2017 and two in 2019 for the Vikings, and spent all of the 2020 season on the practice squad, except for a one-week elevation in Week 11, in which he did not play.

The 6-foot-4, 292-pound tackle its a free agent after the Vikings decided to allow his practice squad contract to expire at the end of the season.

The Steelers have several free agents at the tackle position, including longtime starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, 2019 starting right tackle Matt Feiler and 2020 starting right tackle Zach Banner, who are unrestricted free agents, and backup Jerald Hawkins, who is a restricted free agent.

The Steelers have Chukwuma Okorafor under contract and Anthony Coyle, Jarron Jones, John Leglue and Brandon Walton signed to futures contract.

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Steelers, Zach Banner Donate to Tree of Life Synagogue

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Offensive lineman Zach Banner and the Pittsburgh Steelers have pledged a donation to the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill as part of the Steelers 2020 Social Justice Grant program.

The congregation was attacked during a mass shooting own Oct. 27, 2018 that killed 11 people and wounded six others, the deadliest attack ever on a Jewish community in the United States.

The shooting stuck with Banner, who was a rookie on the team at the time. After Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson made an anti-semitic post on social media, Banner responded with a video post.

“We need to understand that Jewish people deal with the same amount of hate and similar hardships and hard times,” Banner said in the video. “I want to preach to the Black and brown community that we need to uplift them and put our arms around them just as much when we talk about Black Lives Matter and talk about elevating ourselves.”

The video led to Banner becoming something of a fan favorite to the Jewish community.

“Mr. Banner spoke up when others didn’t and we appreciate that,” Barb Feige, executive director of Tree of Life, said to Steelers.com “The fact that he mentioned Tree of Life and the horrific shooting that happened there and how much it impacted him was very meaningful. We are very aware the shooting had an impact beyond our congregation, our Jewish community. The ripple effect was felt. Everybody felt something about it. For Mr. Banner to articulate that, and join our fight against anti-Semitism, was very, very special, very meaningful.”

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Report: Steelers to Interview Los Angeles Chargers QB Coach Pep Hamilton

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The Steelers have requested to interview Los Angeles Chargers quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton for their vacant offensive coordinator position, according to a report by Josina Anderson.

Hamilton, 46, just finished his first season as quarterbacks coach with the Chargers, where he helped develop rookie quarterback Justin Hebert, who was named the PFWA NFL Rookie of the Year.

Hamilton has previously been an offensive coordinator at the NFL level with the Indianapolis Colts from 2013-15, where he led a resurgence around quarterback Andrew Luck.

Hamilton was the head coach of the DC Defenders of the XFL in 2020, the assistant head coach and passing game coordinator for Michigan in 2017-18 and was assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2016. He has also been an NFL assistant with the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears.

Hamilton is the third person confirmed to have interviewed for the position, along with former Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson and Steelers quarterbacks coach Matt Canada, who is expected to earn the position.

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