Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says it’s ‘possible’ James Conner could play this week
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the middle of a late-season funk, having lost their last two games. The losses have drawn questions concerning their offense.
Pittsburgh could be getting a big piece of the puzzle back in the mix this week with second-year running back James Conner possibly being on track to make his return to the field from an ankle sprain in Week 15 action against the New England Patriots, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
RB James Conner (ankle) had a productive week of rehab and coach Mike Tomlin is leaving the door open for Conner to potentially play vs. Patriots. A lot would have to go right but Tomlin said it's possible.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) December 11, 2018
When healthy, Conner has proven to be a highly reliable option out of the backfield for the Steelers. He has stepped firmly into the massive void left by All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell’s absence as he has shown to be a viable dual-threat option that can heavily impact the game.
Conner has been highly productive as he’s currently sixth in the league with 909 rushing yards along with being second with 12 rushing touchdowns along with hauling in 52 catches for 467 receiving yards and a touchdown. He has notched more than 100 rushing yards five times while becoming the first player in league history to post four games within a single season of 100-plus rushing yards, 50-plus receiving yards, and a touchdown.
His production has been huge to the team’s success this season and has helped put them in the position of contending for the AFC North division title and a playoff spot.
If he’s unable to give it a go, the Steelers will likely roll with Jaylen Samuels as the starter while Stevan Ridley plays a secondary role to that. In the first start of his career, Samuels posted 28 rushing yards on 11 carries along with 64 receiving yards on seven receptions.
The Steelers may have a favorable matchup in the running game this week against the Patriots, who rank 15th overall in the league in that regard while being 27th allowing 4.9 per attempt.