Samuels Confident He Can Carry Load

Steelers running back may have to start in return from injury

Josh Rowntree
October 30, 2019 - 1:43 pm
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels (38) congratulates running back James Conner (30) on his touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter at Heinz Field.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers’ blossoming run game has taken a hit, and now adjustments are necessary.

Injuries to running backs James Conner and Benny Snell left Pittsburgh with one healthy running back during Monday’s win over the Miami Dolphins. That was third-year back Trey Edmunds, who had his first career rush late in the win. 

But, should Conner miss Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury and Snell miss with an ankle, the Steelers will be getting back Jaylen Samuels at just the right time. 

Samuels has missed the last two games following microscopic knee surgery. He will be ready to go Sunday when the Steelers welcome Indianapolis. 

“I feel good, I feel way better,” Samuels said Wednesday. “I’ve been doing way better. I’ve been doing rehab these last three weeks, just pushing myself hard to get back to the team. I feel good and ready to go this week. 

“I’m ready to do whatever they want me to do. I feel good, feel fine, 100 percent. I’m ready to go and get started this week.”

Samuels says he was around 95 percent last week and could have played Monday night, but the team decided for a cautious approach and kept him out the game.

Now that he’s back, he could bee elevated into the starter’s role. 

“I’m going to take the same approach,” he said. “I’m used to it. There’s not going to be no pressure or nothing. It’s a hard week of practice right here. Just have to prepare good for a good team and get ready for Sunday.

“If that’s what I’ve got to do, then that’s what I’ve got to do. We’ve got the depth in the running back room to handle the situation we’re going through. I believe in everybody, I believe in this team. If we all just believe in each other and execute, we’ll be good.”

Without Conner and Snell, Samuels would likely be backed up by Edmunds. Pittsburgh signed former Pitt running back Darrin Hall to the practice squad Wednesday. 

Samuels has had success in the starters role before. In last season’s 17-10 win over New England, Samuels ran for 142 yards on 19 carries. He’s starting to see the offensive line and run game move towards that level of dominance again. The Steelers ran for 158 yards against Miami and 124 in the week prior, a win in Los Angeles. 

“The ten-yard runs have definitely been expanding,” he said. “The offensive line have been doing their job, executing. It’s for them to do their job, but also for us to put the ball where it’s got to be. It’s a team effort. 

“It’s makes a huge difference when our running game is going and we’re getting ten-yard runs and a lot of those. It’s a good day. It opens up the passing game. That’s what we do. We’re the Pittsburgh Steelers. We run the ball, we’re physical.”

Hear more from Jaylen Samuels below.