As expected, Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner will sit out Sunday’s road game against the Arizona Cardinals due to his injured shoulder. However, there is some early hope that Conner, who has now missed five games this season with his injured shoulder, might be able to play next Sunday when the Steelers host the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field.
The latest update on Conner’s shoulder injury along with speculation that he might be able to return in Week 15 against the Bills came Sunday morning from Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network.
“James Conner’s set to miss his third straight game for the Steelers with that shoulder injury, but the expectation, I’m told, is that he will be back next week for the game against the Bills,” Garafolo reported Sunday morning. “The problem is they don’t know how long he’s going to be able to last because Conner had told his teammates previously he didn’t think that he was able to play on that shoulder without getting surgery first.
“But he’s going to give it a try next week, we’ll see if he’s able to hold up. Meanwhile, look for Jaylen Samuels to start today against the Cardinals, play a lot early, but Betty Snell to carry the load in the running game down the stretch.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin isn’t likely to discuss Conner’s potential status for next Sunday until he meets with the media on Tuesday to preview that contest against the Bills. Conner, however, might update his condition and chances of him playing against the Bills Monday evening during his weekly radio show. Conner has been listed as being limited in practice several times the last few weeks.
As I wrote this past week, Conner has a lot of incentive to get back on the field in the final three regular season games due to him needing more offensive snaps to qualify for the Proven Performance Escalator in 2020. Even so, if Conner’s shoulder isn’t rehabbed enough for him to play, he shouldn’t return until it is. It certainly sounds like there’s currently some doubt that Conner will be able to avoid shoulder surgery in the future.