James Conner hopes to make a jump in second season

Steelers running back James Conner, who overcame cancer while in college at Pitt, became a third-round draft pick and one of the most popular players in the NFL as a rookie. But his first season didn’t result in much production, with only 144 rushing yards in 14 appearances.

He’s a little bit more confident in the playbook, handling protections — he’s just in better shape, James told Fowler. He’s running fast, running every ball to the end zone. He looks good.

Conner specifically needs to improve in pass protection. If he does, James predicts a big jump for Conner.

It will have to be a big jump for the Steelers to ever consider entrusting the future starting running back job to Conner.

Thus, as Jones points out, Griffin may not even make the team. Jackson’s arrival via round one presents the biggest threat to Griffin’s status, but Griffin doesn’t come off as jealous or resentful.

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s decision by the NFL to alter the anthem policy in a way that managed to do more harm than good, the NFL Players Association wasn’t happy. The NFL’s players can do something about that in a way that is far more immediate and tangible than pursuing legal remedies over the next several months.

Thomas, a second-year defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers, will return to his family’s home in the Dallas area this weekend to take part Saturday in The Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk, which benefits the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Thomas has already raised more than $27,000 for the cause.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 44,000 suicides a year in the United States and it is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 34.