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James Conner: ‘It’ll be a little longer’ before he can return to game action

The Steelers will likely be without James Conner in Week 13. We break down the fantasy football implications with Benny Snell emerging as the go-to guy.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner runs the ball against Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns in a critical Week 13 divisional showdown, and they likely will be without running back James Conner for a second straight week. Conner separated his shoulder in Week 8 and missed two games. He returned in Week 11, but aggravated the injury and missed last week’s game against the Bengals.

On Monday, Conner said on the radio that he is making progress, but, “it’ll be a little longer” before he’s ready to go (via Steelers Depot). He would not commit to a specific timeline.

“I’m definitely making progress on it,” Conner said Monday. “Getting a lot more strength in there, more stabilization. It’s one of those things that as a player I have to be smart with because if I continue to play without it being stable, then eventually surgery will need to be done. So, I just need to wait till I have enough stabilization and strength and that tendon gets a little bit stronger, because that’s kind of what I had, a little minor setback when I tried to play versus Cleveland.”

“Currently speaking, it’ll be a little longer,” Conner said. “I’m not sure, you know, how many days or how long it may be, but I’m working my butt off sitting in the training room and weight room to keep this thing strong as possible, and doing everything else possible that I can to hurry up and get back. And like I said, it’s killing me not being out there, but I’ll just have to, you know, wait it out.”

Conner would seem unlikely to play this weekend against the Browns, and after that is anybody’s guess.

In the meantime, Benny Snell has emerged as the Steelers starter in Conner’s absence. Jaylen Samuels got the start when Conner was first out, but Snell was also sidelined at the time. This past Sunday, Snell got 21 carries for 98 yards. In fact, Kerrith Whyte had six carries for 43 yards while Samuels only had two carries for six yards.

Samuels was busier in the passing game with three receptions for 26 yards. He would appear to be the passing down back, in maybe a Nyheim Hines kind of role. Snell is the guy to grab off the waiver wire in Week 13. How much longer he lasts in the starting role will take some time to sort out.