The last time James Conner started and finished a game, he had his best outing of the year, one of his best showings in his career, and that’s for a Pro Bowler just a year ago. Problem is he hasn’t been out there for more than a quarter in over a month, and it’s not clear at what point he’ll be back.
While the Pittsburgh Steelers listed him as doubtful the last time around, that seemed like an optimistic designation, because there was no chance he would suit up against the Cleveland Browns. He had just tried to play through the shoulder injury and ended up aggravating the injury and making it worse.
He talked before the game about how the issue is now that attempting to play through the injury would in all likelihood cause him to need surgery. On his weekly radio show yesterday, he essentially said that this week is no different.
“It’s getting better”, he did tell his hosts on the outside in updating his status, “but like I said this is a battle of time. I’m doing everything else possible, like I said last week, and I’m going to continue to do that. The shoulder’s just something that takes time”.
Conner has now missed four of the past five games, and most of a sixth. He attempted to play in the last meeting against the Browns two weeks ago, but was forced to check himself out of the game at the end of the first quarter.
“If it was unstable and I went out there”, he said, “and the joint kept moving around, then I would need surgery. I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to come back until I’m sure I won’t need surgery on my shoulder”.
So it appears that we are just in a holding pattern right now with Conner. He will be healthy whenever he is healthy, however long that takes, and there is no clear timeline for that. Whenever he can play without risking the need to have surgery, that’s when he’ll return, and no sooner.
“Everybody has their roles”, he said of the now five-man running back room. “My role is to get healthy”.
On the season, Conner has recorded 102 rushing attempts for 390 yards, averaging 3.8 yards per carry with four rushing touchdowns. He also has 30 receptions for 242 yards with two more touchdowns. In his last full game, he carried the ball 23 times for 145 yards, which was 90 yards more on the ground than he had in any other game. It was also by far his most carries in a game.