For most of James Conner’s time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was the team’s No. 1 running back. Now that he is in Arizona on a one-year “prove it” contract, Conner expects to be sharing backfield duties with fourth-year back Chase Edmonds—and he believes both players will be better for it.
“I see us as a tandem, and I think we can be one of the best in the league,” said Conner during an “On the Fly” Interview with Lisa Matthews, before claiming that neither he nor Edmonds has yet realized their full potential.
“He’s been waiting for an opportunity, even though he has the body of work and a resume, but to show more. I know he’s anxious to show more, I’m anxious to show more,” said Conner. “With both of us together back there with K1 [third-year quarterback/former No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray], weapons on the outside, interior line, tackles, everybody. There’s opportunity here and me and Chase, we’re gonna feed off each other and keep this thing rolling.”
Certainly Conner hopes to get better blocking than he was afforded during his last season in Pittsburgh, which led to the Steelers finishing last in the NFL in rushing. He also has a resume that is decidedly stronger than that of Edmonds, with 33 starts and 2,302 career rushing yards to his credit, not to mention a Pro Bowl season (2018) in which he scored 13 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Edmonds came to the Cardinals in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Fordham. In his first three seasons in the league, he appeared in 45 games with four starts and produced 217 carries for 959 yards and seven touchdowns. He has also contributed 85 catches for 710 yards and five receiving touchdowns.
Asked about the biggest strength he can bring to Arizona’s offense, Conner told Matthews he thinks he can offer “leadership and hard-nosed football, but also get involved in the passing game as well,” not to mention “big, explosive plays.”
Certainly if anyone can overcome adversity it’s Conner. In 2020 he struggled with multiple, lingering injuries and also contracted COVID-19. But those challenges probably pale in comparison to beating cancer while in college at the University of Pittsburgh. Keep in mind that at the age of 26, Conner has already lived a life worthy of an autobiography, titled Fear is a Choice, which was published a year ago. And although he is in a brand-new environment in Arizona, he does have at least one close contact from his past, that being former Steelers running backs coach James Saxon, who has the same role with the Cardinals.
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A Children’s Book in the Works?
Meanwhile, Conner offered one other interesting bit of news when he spoke with Matthews, revealing that he is working on a new book—this time a children’s book.
Not that he is ready to put the experience of writing Fear is a Choice behind him.
“It’s a blessing to be able to call myself a published author,” he said. “I still come back to the book and pull quotes and draw strength from [it].”
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