James Conner’s opening night was nearly over before it started.
And the Steelers’ passing game was looking for a spark other than JuJu Smith-Schuster against the Giants.
Enter a couple of second year players — running back Benny Snell and wideout Diontae Johnson. Once Pittsburgh’s offense got rolling it was tough to stop and both Snell and Johnson played major roles in a 26-16 road win.
Expect to see plenty more of those two in the Steelers’ home opener against Denver Sunday afternoon.
“I was proud of Benny,” Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said Thursday after practice.
“Benny just keeps improving and he’s part of that young group, him and Diontae, that natural development from year one to year two is exciting to watch and you see it being developed.”
With Conner ailing with bum ankle, which could explain his disappointing production (six carries, nine yards), the Steelers unleashed Snell on the Giants and the former Kentucky Wildcat responded with a career-high 113 yards on 19 carries.
Johnson helped take some of the pressure off Smith-Schuster (6-69, two touchdowns) with six catches (on a team-high 10 targets) for 57 yards.
“Both those guys came back in excellent condition, right frame of mind,” Fichtner said Snell and Johnson.
“And they have done nothing but put themselves in position to continually get better and they have to.”
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