The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How much more time will James Conner miss?
At the rate things are currently going, it’s really unknown as to at what point James Conner will play again. He has already missed essentially the past five games, minus one quarter of play, during which he reaggravated the shoulder injury that caused him to miss the prior couple of games.
While he did start practicing a little bit on a limited basis, it didn’t ever appear as though he had a realistic chance of playing on Sunday. And now that he knows the level at which he was when he attempted to play through the injury last time, it’s inevitable that they will be more cautious.
He has said now for the past two weeks that the issue with his shoulder is that playing through it could result in him having to get surgery to repair the issue, so the only thing that they really can do is for him to take his time, lest they lose him for the rest of the year instead.
How much time will he need, though? Another week? Two? The rest of the regular season? Perhaps the Steelers can afford to be more cautious if Benny Snell continues to mature as he has over the past two weeks since coming off of a knee injury. Jaylen Samuels also had his best game of the year, and Kerrith Whyte’s speed offers an interesting dynamic.
If they do end up making the playoffs, you can add ‘starting Pro Bowl running back misses half the season’ to the long list of obstacles they overcame to get there. Or at least close to that mark. We’ll see at what point he can get back.