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Tomlin: ‘No Reservation’ about Big Workload for RB Benny Snell

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Starting running back James Conner is on the COVID-19 reserve list and won’t play in the Steelers’ Week 12 game against the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday night.

That normally wouldn’t be a huge issue, as the Steelers have a deep group of running backs, but that group has been thinned repeatedly this week.

In addition to Conner, the Steelers will be without Jaylen Samuels, who will miss his second consecutive game with a quadriceps injury and Trey Edmunds, who was placed on the injured reserve this week with a hamstring injury.

That leaves the Steelers’ usual five-man unit with just two members: second year back Benny Snell, Jr. and rookie Anthony McFarland, Jr.

Snell has performed well when called upon in his two seasons. He’s averaged 3.8 yards per carry on 165 attempts. This season, he’s rushed 57 times for 195 yards and three touchdowns. He’s carried the ball more than 10 times in a game just once, when Conner was injured in the season opener against New York. He finished that game with 19 carrels for 113 yards.

McFarland has gotten even less work, with just 20 carries on the season for 67 yards.

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That likely means a busy evening will be in the cards for Snell, but head coach Mike Tomlin said on Sunday that he doesn’t have a problem with that.

“I have no reservation about Benny Snell as a featured runner,” Tomlin said when asked about the potential division of later on Tuesday night.

The Steelers do have a couple other options available to them. Fullback Derek Watt can fill in at running back in a pinch and practice squad back Wendell Smallwood could be elevated to the active roster if necessary.

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