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Steelers’ James Conner is ‘feeling very good’ about his return

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner has missed each of the last couple of weeks due to a separated shoulder, but he is slated to return for the Steelers’ pivotal matchup against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday. He seems to be ready for it:

“I’m making a lot of progress on it, and I think I’ll be good to go,” Conner said, according to Brooke Pryor of ESPN. “I can’t make no guarantees, but as of right now, I’m feeling very good and things are feeling very confident for me playing on Thursday.”

Pittsburgh desperately needs Conner back, as its rushing attack has suffered in his absence.

This past Sunday, the Steelers mustered just 42 yards on the ground. Pittsburgh was able to pick up a 17-12 win over the Los Angeles Rams thanks to a stellar defensive performance, but the Steelers probably can’t win many more games with that type of anemic running game.

It doesn’t help matters much that rookie halfback Benny Snell underwent arthroscopic knee surgery a couple of weeks ago and has also been sidelined, forcing Pittsburgh to call up a couple of backs from the practice squad.

Conner is hoping to change all of that upon his return:

“We’ve been playing versus good defenses,” Conner said. “I just want to contribute to the run game when I get back. Mason [Rudolph] played good. We won the games without the run game. That doesn’t mean we don’t need it because we definitely do, and so hopefully I can contribute to it when I get back.”

The Steelers have won five of their last six games to vault themselves into playoff contention in the AFC. But if Pittsburgh wants to make the postseason, it probably needs a healthy Conner the rest of the way.