The Bengals signed John Conner, aka The Terminator, to a two year contract Saturday after placing fullback Chris Pressley on injured reserve after he suffered a knee injury in the Thursday night win against the Eagles. Conner drew attention two seasons ago for his role in the Hard Knocks program featuring the Jets, but he was a player I absolutely coveted going into the draft that season. Conner is a traditional style fullback in the mold of former Bengal Lorenzo Neal. He has the ability to blow up defenders at the line of scrimmage, has decent hands, and can fight for tough yardage in the red zone.
Conner, who hails from Cincinnati and played at Lakota West High School, was mainly a blocking back at Kentucky, but he did show the ability to catch the ball on occasion and scored several touchdowns. His main skill, though, is being a blocking back, which is a somewhat antiquated concept for the NFL in 2012. That said, there is still a place for a guy like Conner in the NFL, and most certainly in the smash-mouth AFC North.
“He does all the things that NFL teams ask their fullbacks to do. He blocks. He catches the ball. And when you need him to make a carry in short yardage, he almost always picks up first downs. He’s going to have a long career in the league.” ~Joker Phillips, former Kentucky coach
Conner, whom the Jets traded up to take in the 5th round of the 2010 NFL draft, was coach Rex Ryan’s “hand picked” draft selection and was heaped with praise for his blocking, toughness, and special teams play. After an injury settlement release in October, Conner has spent the past few months working out at Ignition Sports in Mason and preparing for his chance to get back into the league. At the time of his release, Rex Ryan suggested that he might be brought back. Instead, he will be counted on to help the Bengals make a final push for the playoffs.