Joe Reedy reports:
When Chris Pressley suffered a season-ending knee injury on Thursday night, the Bengals did not have to look far to find someone to come in.
The team signed West Chester native and former Jet John Conner to a two-year deal after a Saturday morning workout involving three players. Conner moves into Pressley’s roster spot after the Bengals placed him on injured reserve. Pressley suffered the injury during the first quarter of the 34-13 win over the Eagles.
“I feel great about getting the opportunity, and I’m ready to go,” Conner said after the workout and signing his contract. “I hope to bring a lot to the running game and feel like I can block well.”Conner, a former Lakota West and University of Kentucky standout, said being released took him by surprise. Conner was a fifth-round pick in 2010 before being waived on Oct. 18 due to injuries, an MCL sprain and hamstring. At the time of the move, the New York Daily News wrote that the Jets had hoped to re-sign Conner later in the season. Conner was on the roster for the first six games and played in three, including two starts.
Since being released, Conner has been working out at Ignition in Mason. His style does fit with what offensive coordinator Jay Gruden wants in a fullback.
“You want to be a banger up in there, and that’s not for everybody. That’s a special breed of guy, and the breed is dying,” Gruden said on Friday. “There’s not many fullbacks in college football anymore, there’s not many in pro football really.”
The Bengals use a fullback on only 19.5 percent of their offensive plays, but Conner does bring some added versatility on special teams.
Due to his blocking on returns and getting down there on coverage teams, Conner’s nickname of “The Terminator” was used often on Hard Knocks in 2010 by Jets head coach Rex Ryan.
Conner’s career totals are 21 carries for 88 yards (4.2) and two touchdowns, along with four receptions for 18 yards. He played in every game in 2010-11.
The good thing for Conner is that he has experience from this season facing the Steelers. He was with the Jets when they visited Pittsburgh in Week 2.
At worst, the Bengals will go into next Sunday’s game tied for the final playoff spot, but they could lead by a game if Dallas beats Pittsburgh today.
“What a game to come back for. That should make it a little more exciting,” he said.
Pressley, who is signed through 2013, played in all of this season’s games with seven starts.
His only offensive touch was a 1-yard touchdown catch in Week 4 at Jacksonville.