Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: RB James Conner
Stock Value: Down
By the way things are looking now, third-year running back James Conner will have missed roughly half of the season. While he has suited up for 10 games, he has had to exit several of them early, including the second Cleveland Browns game, in which he managed just one quarter. In two of his past three games, he has combined to play just 22 snaps.
In fact, he has only played in four games since the Week Eight bye week, and given that he remains sidelined through this week of practice, if figures to stay that way. And that accounts for the bulk of the season, nine games. He has only played 120 total snaps since the bye.
Conner initially suffered a shoulder injury in a 145-yard rushing effort against the Miami Dolphins. He sat out the next two games before trying to game back against the Browns, exiting after 13 snaps and one quarter.
He then remained out for the next three games, finally returning to action in Week 15 against the Buffalo Bills, where he was limited to just 12 touches, including eight carries, though he accounted for 34 snaps, or nearly 60 percent. On Sunday, he played just nine snaps before suffering a thigh injury.
That thigh injury looks to keep him off the field for the rest of the 2019 season, barring the Steelers reaching the postseason, and that perhaps may even require them to advance a round or two before he is ready.
This was basically a contract year for the former third-round draft pick, as players in his position would typically be in-line for an extension in the offseason heading into the final year of their contract. It’s not at all clear that he will be extended prior to the start of the 2020 season, given the circumstances of his injury history.