CLEVELAND (AP) — The Steelers survived one week without Le’Veon Bell.
Maybe they can do it again.
Making his first NFL start Authentic T.Y. Hilton Jersey , James Conner helped Pittsburgh forget that Bell — the team’s disgruntled star running back — isn’t around and may not be back anytime soon.
Conner scored two touchdowns, rushed for 135 yards and added 57 more on five catches as the Steelers escaped Sunday with a 21-21 tie against the Cleveland Browns, who ended their 17-game losing streak without winning.
Conner was more than an adequate fill-in for Bell, who remains separated from the Steelers in an ugly contract dispute.
While his teammates slopped around in the rain at FirstEnergy Stadium, Bell continued his holdout in South Florida as his replacement gave the Steelers hope they’ll be able to withstand not having one of their biggest stars.
Conner could be their newest one.
“I’m so tired of Le’Veon,” Steelers right guard David DeCastro told reporters. “I’m so tired of it. Let’s just worry about the guys that are here. I know you guys have stories to write and what not. I love Le’Veon, but we have to worry about the guys that are here. That’s the only people that matter.”
Conner scored on a 4-yard run in the second quarter and added a 22-yarder in the fourth as the Steelers opened a 21-7 lead that appeared safe.
However, as Pittsburgh appeared on the verge of putting the Browns away Womens Andy Dalton Jersey , Conner had his lone blemish on an otherwise stellar day.
Running right, Conner got stripped by Browns end Myles Garrett and his fumble led to the Browns quickly scoring two touchdowns in the final 7:32 to force overtime.
Cleveland had a chance to win it, but linebacker T.J. Watt added a blocked field goal to his four-sack game by getting a hand on Zane Gonzalez’s 43-yard field-goal attempt with 9 seconds left.
Bell’s messy situation cast a shadow over the Steelers all week, bringing a distraction to a team that usually avoids drama. The stand-off could last for a while, and if it does, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin, his staff and the Steelers have to feel better about what Conner can provide.
“He did some really great things,” said superstar receiver Antonio Brown. “He ran well and brought great energy all day. I was excited to see him make some plays Authentic Eric Berry Jersey , not only in the run game, but in the pass game as well.”
On a day when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger struggled throwing three interceptions and fumbling twice, Conner was solid and steady.
“Pressure is always there,” said Conner, who survived a cancer scare while he was at Pitt. “You’re either feeling pressure or applying pressure. I was trying to apply the pressure today. There were no nerves or nothing. Just playing football.”
It looked that way. Conner patiently looked for running lanes, taking what Cleveland’s defense gave him and never trying to do too much.
The 23-year-old finished with 192 total yards, matching Bell’s best game from last season.
“I thought he played well,” said Roethlisberger Womens Marian Hossa Jersey , who struggled from the outset. “Ran hard, caught the ball well. Made plays for us. I’m proud of the way he played for this team.”
Conner took it all in stride. Following the game, he casually accepted congratulations while dressing and came across as composed off the field as he was on it.
“It is what I expect,” he said of his performance. “It’s the mentality of our offense. We feel like we’re going to run the ball when we want to run the ball so I know the mentality of those guys up front. I knew the lanes were going to be there. I knew today was going to be a good day on the ground, just not enough to win.
“I have confidence in myself and the guys in front of me blocking, so it’s what we expect to do.”
Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon remains away from training camp and a report on Sunday indicates that he’s getting closer to returning, but that he won’t be back by Tuesday.
That’s a significant date because it is 30 days before the start of the regular season and league rules say players failing to report by that date lose an accrued season toward free agency. As PFT noted, that would leave Gordon set to be an exclusive rights free agent for the second straight year rather than a restricted free agent.
In addition to reporting that Gordon won’t be back by Tuesday Alex Tuch Jersey Kids , Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com also reports that the Browns “have taken measures” to ensure Gordon’s contractual status won’t be hurt by not being in camp. Cabot adds that the Browns have worked closely with the league to make sure that Gordon is “not pressured by any deadlines to end” the treatment plan that’s kept him out of camp.
Gordon has been texting with teammates and the Browns have continually said that they expect to have him back on the field this year. At the moment, though, it remains anybody’s guess when that might come to pass.
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