The Pittsburgh Steelers enter today’s game shorthanded at the running back position, with only Jaylen Samuels, the second-year back, having ever played a meaningful role in their offense before. His direct backup in today’s game, with both James Conner and Benny Snell on the shelf, is Trey Edmunds, who only got a carry last week because he was the last health running back in the game.
Having called up another running back yesterday from the practice squad is not much comfort, and chances are he will not play unless there are more injuries; he’s just an emergency. But from the sounds of it, he may at least have a roster spot for more than a couple of days.
According to Adam Schefter, there is belief that Conner’s status for the game against the Los Angeles Rams, the week after today’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, “also is in jeopardy”. He Tweeted that out early this morning.
Steelers’ RB James Conner, listed as doubtful for Sunday with a shoulder injury, is not expected to play against the Colts and also is in jeopardy of not playing next week against the Rams, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 3, 2019
Given that Snell had an operation on his knee to clean up some damage, we know that he is not going to be back in time for that game, either. So we could be heading into next week’s game in the same boat in which we’re floating now, with Samuels as the only experienced back in the system and Edmunds the spare tire.
This could be a lean stretch for the offense, particularly as it tries to establish itself on the ground. They have had success running the ball in the past two weeks, but down two of your top three running backs is not a good way to pick things up. And your lone back remaining is just fresh off of a knee injury himself, to add to it all.
At the very least, I do expect Edmunds to get into the game and contribute. The reason, according to the coaches, that he wasn’t used last week until it was absolutely necessary is because he had not gotten the work in during practice that week.
Remember, not only were both Conner and Snell healthy, Samuels was a full participant in practice that week as well, even though he ultimately did not play. So Edmunds was on the back burner, and the Steelers did not want to put in a back whom the rest of the offense had not worked with during the week.
But he will have gotten plenty of work in now with only himself and Samuels and the running backs from the practice squad available for participation. So hopefully, if Conner has to miss multiple games, they can at least enter next week’s game with more confidence in a two-back rotation.