This Steelers Starter Will Be the First to Lose His Job in 2020

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner / Will Newton/Getty Images

James Conner's story seems too good to be true. A Pittsburgh native who stayed local in college, Conner overcame cancer, was drafted by his hometown Steelers, and became a Pro Bowl running back.

Unfortunately, times have changed since 2018. Conner, a free agent at the end of this year, has started to gradually lose trust within the organization given his injury history and significant decline in production last year. Don't be surprised if one of Pittsburgh's backup running backs takes the starting gig away from Conner.

Former Kentucky running back and current backup Benny Snell is almost a direct clone of Conner, and he has the power and shiftiness to replace his production without carrying such a high injury risk.

If the Steelers want to opt for a more explosive back, they have the luxury of being able to do that as well. They drafted Maryland home run hitter Anthony McFarland in the fourth round in April. Given Conner's injury problems and more than replaceable production on the field when he isn't hurt, he has to be looking over his shoulder at Snell and McFarland.

Additionally, if the Steelers are already planning for life without Conner, there's no reason why the coaching staff wouldn't give more reps to these two young studs.

Conner has been a tremendously heartwarming story, but his time in his hometown could draw to a close unless he shuts up all the doubters in 2020.