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, and now Devlin Hodges? 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: Will James Conner play tomorrow night?
James Conner practiced all week. He is listed as questionable on the injury report, reminding, of course, that there is no longer a ‘probable’ injury designation. Yet the third-year running back was pretty consistent in walking back any suggestion that he has somehow made a huge amount of progress on the injury front this week.
The Steeler play yet another one of their ‘biggest game of the year’, this one having the potential to put them in the driver’s seat for securing their best possible remaining outcome: the fifth seed. If they beat the Buffalo Bills, then they move into position for the top wildcard seed and then merely need to hold serve over the final two games.
Having their lead runner back for the game would sure by useful after he has missed all but one quarter of play since Week Eight, but he is dealing with an injury from which you cannot rush back. Just because he practiced all week doesn’t mean he’s at a point in his health where it would be safe for him to play without the significant risk of needing to have surgery.
For what it’s worth, our own Melanie Friedlander sounds pretty confident in believing that Conner is not going to play. And, you know, she’s a doctor and stuff. She might not have personally examined him, but she knows a lot more about this sort of thing than quite possibly anybody reading this.