If Le’Veon Bell is watching his Pittsburgh teammates today, his stomach may have dropped a bit after the Steelers’ first touchdown of the year.
Not only did Bell’s backup, James Conner, waltz into the end zone on an all-too-easy four-yard run in Cleveland, but the same offensive line that has been critical of Bell’s holdout immediately mobbed the the second-year tailback in the end zone and couldn’t stop celebrating with him.
Maybe they were doing it for the cameras, maybe they were doing it for themselves, maybe they were doing it just to celebrate Conner’s first NFL touchdown. In any case, it’s a message sent.
Conner’s long road to the NFL end zone
Well before Bell began his latest holdout, Conner had already become a hometown hero after playing his college ball at Pittsburgh. The Erie, Pennsylvania native was a first team All-American and ACC Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2014, setting a conference record with 26 rushing touchdowns for the Panthers.
Everything was setting up for another huge year in 2015 until he tore his MCL in the season opener. Then during his rehab, Conner was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and began undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Even still, he vowed to play football again.
He made good on his promise just one year later. After 12 rounds of chemo, Conner was cancer-free and returned to the field in 2016, rushing for more than 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns.
If that weren’t enough, Conner was selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft by his hometown Steelers.
After rushing for just 144 yards total on 32 carries as a rookie, Conner was thrust into the starting role with Bell on the sidelines looking for a new contract.
Conner didn’t waste any time making the most of the opportunity. His story keeps getting better while Bell’s remains on hold.
– – – – – –
More from Yahoo Sports:
• 5 things to know about U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka
• How the NFL’s fittest QB stays healthy
• 10 takeaways from a stunning college football weekend
• Serena defends referee confrontation