Steelers’ running back James Conner celebrates four years of being cancer free

Los Angeles Chargers v Pittsburgh SteelersConner celebrating a touchdown in a 2018 game vs the Chargers | Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Steelers Pro-Bowl running back celebrated the milestone on twitter Saturday

On May 23rd, 2016 the then Pittsburgh Panthers star got the news he had been waiting to finally hear— he was cancer free. Fast forward four years and the now-Steelers running back remains free of the disease.

While recovering from a torn MCL in 2015, Conner began feeling symptoms of what ultimately ended up being stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Tests would discover tumors in both his head and chest as he was diagnosed with the disease on Thanksgiving Day 2015. A very difficult 182 days later he defeated the life-threatening illness.

Not only did Conner beat cancer but, as many of us have witnessed, he has become a Pro-Bowl running back for his home-town team. On top of being named to the Pro Bowl, Conner has a plethora of achievements since beating cancer including being named 1st team All-ACC, 2,300+ total NFL yards, 20 total NFL touchdowns, twice named AFC offensive player of the week (once in 2018, once in 2019) and was the AFC offensive player of the month for October 2018.

Conner has recently written an autobiography titled “Fear is a Choice” set to come out on June 16th. In the book, the Steelers star goes into detail about his battle with cancer, and his comeback to the game he loves.

While no where near the struggle that overcoming cancer was, Conner will look to come back from an adverse 2019 season which saw him battle injuries the duration of the season. His perseverance and determination are clear; Conner can rally back from anything and 2020 could be a big year for the bruising back.

Being more than the game of football, May 23rd will be a date Conner and his family can celebrate forever.


Can Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of the Steelers offense return to dominance?

Pittsburgh Steelers v New England PatriotsBoth Roethlisberger and Conner look to return to prowl form | Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Almost the entirety of the offense is looking to bounce back in 2020

The Pittsburgh Steelers offense took a step back in 2019. Not only were 2/3rds of the killer bees completely off the roster, but the depth chart was absolutely decimated by injury. The most prominent of course was Big Ben going down, which absolutely hamstrung the unit and contributed in some key contributors being left off the stat sheet.

Let’s take a look at some of the players that need to rebound from injury, poor play, or lack of opportunity from a season ago.

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh SteelersPhoto by Joe Sargent/Getty Images
Big Ben sporting his cast vs Baltimore

Ben Roethlisberger

Coming back from: Injury

If this man can stay healthy there is no doubt In my mind that the Steelers will be a playoff team in 2020. The video of him shaving is a good sign that he thinks he can throw an NFL caliber pass again but can that elbow withstand the course of an entire season? If yes, the NFL better watch out.

Pittsburgh Steelers v New York JetsPhoto by Steven Ryan/Getty Images
Smith-Schuster only reeled in 2 reception this game vs the Jets

JuJu Smith-Schuster

Coming back from: Injury, lack of use, & poor play

You gotta feel for Juju, after exploding out of the cannon his first two years in the NFL the 23 year old smacked right into the wall in 2019. Of course not having your future hall of fame QB under center couldn’t possibly help a receivers stats, but Smith-Schuster was in a season where he was drawing top matchups for the first time in his career. Juju also had to battle concussion and knee injuries throughout the year.

If I was a betting man I’d tell you Juju is going to slip back into the slot with h addition of Chase Claypool and emergence of Diontae Johnson and with a little health luck should bounce right back into being a 1,000 yard receiver.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland BrownsPhoto by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images
The injury bug again bit the Pittsburgh native in 2019

James Conner

Coming back from: Injury (again)

In three seasons in Pittsburgh, James Conner has missed a total of 11 game (6 in 2019) this trend will have be end (or nearly end) in order for Steelers fans to stop calling for a change in the back field. Yet when he’s on the field Conner is grinding out more than 4 yards per carry. However, the best ability is availability and you get 0 yards per carry on the bench. Conner will simply have to play more in 2020.

Miami Dolphins v Indianapolis ColtsPhoto by Michael Hickey/Getty Images
A return to form by the former Colt would give the Steelers a matchup nightmare

Eric Ebron

Coming back from: Injury

Ebron is the only newcomer on the team to be featured on the list but if he plays like 2018 Eric Ebron oh boy did the Steelers nab themselves an absolute steal. The former Colt is coming back from season ending ankle surgery and like Big Ben has recently been cleared for full activity. If the Steelers can get 14 touchdowns out of Ebron then this team should quite easily cruise into the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Steelers v New York JetsPhoto by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Big Al seemed to struggle more as the season went on.

Alejandro Villanueva

Coming back from: Struggling in pass protection

The Steelers 2-time ProBowl left tackle hit a bump in the road in 2019. Big Al was often seen on the ground a season ago. It’s still not impossible that he can bounce back in 2020. With Ben back under center defences won’t be able to stack the box and blitz as often against the Steelers. Also Bens pocket presence is unlike any other and Al thrived with Ben in the pocket. Not only that but he drew some premier pass rushers to line up against (Garrett x2, the Bosas, Jadeveon Clowney, & Chandler Jones among others) and has a much more favourable schedule in 2020.

Other things in need of a bounce back:

How many of the players listed above can return to old form? What if they all do, will the unit be top ten in the NFL? Let us know your thoughts down In the comments!