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Steelers 2-a-days: Former camp phenom Tuzar Skipper is back, Benny Snell again a backup RB – TribLIVE

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Editor’s note: From now until the first practice of training camp at Saint Vincent College, the Trib will be running through the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 90-man roster, assessing each player’s outlook for the 2022 season. The breakdown will go through the roster in mostly-alphabetical order, two per day, between June 11 and July 25. Contract data courtesy
Experience: 10 NFL games (in 2019 and 2020) since entering NFL undrafted in 2019
Contract status: $895,000 cap hit in 2022, after which scheduled to be a restricted free agent
2022 outlook: Skipper had five sacks in four preseason games as an undrafted rookie three years ago but despite repeated acquisitions of him by the Steelers he has never appeared in a regular-season game for them. The most recent time the Steelers brought in Skipper was in the midst of spring practices, perhaps an indication management wasn’t fully satisfied with their options at backup outside linebacker.
A University of Toledo product who is from New York City, the 6-foot-3, 246-pound Skipper will be competing with younger players to try to unseat Derrek Tuszka, who is penciled in as the fourth outside linebacker on the depth chart behind starters T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith and veteran backup Genard Avery. Skipper by all indications has the pass-rushing chops to collect an NFL paycheck, but can he work in coverage? Be stout against the run? Handle roles on special teams?
Those will be what allows Skipper to stick, if he does. Because in a position room that includes some intriguing undrafted rookies and some veterans who are trusted on special teams, Skipper needs to stand out. And none of that even accounts for the possibility the Steelers might yet add a veteran free agent — last year in late July, for example, they signed Melvin Ingram.
Tuzar Skipper’s signing is the Steelers’ latest effort to provide reinforcement at a position that — on paper — is among the thinnest areas on the team in regards to experience.
— Tribune-ReviewSports (@TribSports) June 5, 2022

Experience: 4th season
Contract status: $1.14 million cap hit in 2022, after which scheduled for unrestricted free agency
2022 outlook: Snell spent the first two seasons of his career as the backup to James Conner; last season, he was behind then-rookie Najee Harris on the depth chart. Part of a chain of four consecutive mid-round draft picks the Steelers used on running backs in successive years between the Le’Veon Bell and Harris higher picks, Snell has been productive when he’s been a workhorse back for a game. In the five career appearances in which he’s gotten at least 17 carries, Snell has accumulated 461 yards, an average of 92.2 per game and 5.0 per carry.
The other side of Snell’s career stat line is during all the other games, during which he presumably mostly served as a backup who played sparingly: in 41 games in which he had 16 carries for fewer, Snell averages just 2.6 yards per carry. Is that a coincidence? Is it more a cause-and-effect thing (games in which Snell was productive, naturally, coaches tended to give him more carries)?
Either way, giving Snell a workhorse workload is not an option, not with Harris on the team. So, can Snell keep his gig as the backup? Maybe, as the running back who can start if Harris is unavailable. But Snell’s skillset makes him an awkward fit as a complementary back who can maybe fill, say, a third-down or gadget role. For varying reasons, other running backs in camp such as Anthony McFarland Jr. or rookie Jaylen Warren would appear to be better fits for that. So it will be interesting to see what niche Snell can fill.
Hey, Steelers Nation, get the latest news about the Pittsburgh Steelers here.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at or via Twitter .
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