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Steelers’ James Conner speaks out on his injury status

James Conner

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner missed his team’s Week 12 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals on the road, as the one-time Pro-Bowl rusher is nursing a shoulder injury.

Conner told Pittsburgh sports radio 93.7 The Fan that it’s “killing” him not playing with his team.

Per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler:

“I need to be smart. If I’m not, then surgery will need to be done. I had a minor setback vs. Cleveland. It’s killing me not being out there. The ligaments need to get stronger.”

Conner, 24, has missed three games this season so far; outside of being sidelined in Week 12, the local Pitt product missed Weeks 9-10, and explained that the Week 11 loss to division rival Cleveland Browns was a “setback” for the third-year rusher. Conner re-aggravated his shoulder, rushing only five times for 10 yards against the Browns nearly two weeks ago.

He has 102 carries for 390 rushing yards and four touchdowns in eight games this season, chipping in 30 receptions for 242 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the air, too. Conner’s injury-prone season and diminished production comes one year after being picked for his first Pro Bowl, where he recorded nearly 1,000 yards on the ground and a dozen TDs in 13 games during the season he had to sub in for Le’Veon Bell.

In the single-digit win over the Bengals over the weekend, the Steelers saw quarterback Mason Rudolph benched for undrafted free agent gunslinger Devlin “Duck” Hodges, who led Pittsburgh to the victory.

On the ground, the Steelers relied on rookie running back Benny Snell Jr.; the fourth-round pick-up from the 2019 NFL Draft rushed for 98 yards on 21 carries.