The Steelers’ injury issues at running back piled up in a concerning way on Monday night, but head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that there is hope for a quick return to normalcy.
There was already one issue enter the game, as second-string back Jaylen Samuels was held out, as he is still working his way back from arthroscopic knee surgery.
In the first half, third-string rookie Benny Snell suffered an knee injury and he did not return. In the fourth quarter, starter James Conner injured the AC joint in his shoulder, leaving just fourth-string practice squad callup Trey Edmunds as the last healthy back on the roster to close out the 27-14 victory over the Dolphins.
But Tomlin said on Tuesday that Samuels is set for a return and probably could have played on Monday after being a full participant in practice as the Steelers came off their bye week.
“Jaylen Samuels’ availability is right on time,” Tomlin said. “Jaylen really got a clean bill of health at the end of last week and was available to us. Because of lack of work and the work of others, we chose not to play him. He will be ready to go in this football game.”
So the Steelers have at least two running backs ready to go for this Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, and despite the short work week coming off Monday Night Football, Tomlin remains somewhat optimistic about the chances for Conner to be able to suit up, even if he doesn’t get a full week of work in.
“It is going to limit him at the early portions of the week,” Tomlin said. “James has played enough ball, starting to get comfortable with him not requiring a complete week of work in an effort for him to play like it does some younger players. So, we will play it by ear. We will check his availability on a day-to-day basis and let that be our guide.”
Snell, on the other hand, would likely need a quicker return from his injury in order for Tomlin to give him the green light for Sunday.
“That may limit him, and he is the type of guy that if he gets limited because of youth and inexperience, it may affect his availability,” Tomlin said. “We will see where the week leads us with two running backs being treated in some form or fashion.”
In addition to Edmunds, the Steelers also have former Oregon speedster Tony Brooks-James on the practice squad and on Wednesday, signed Pitt grad Darrin Hall to the practice squad, as well.