PITTSBURGH — The Steelers and running back James Conner are expecting that he’ll be able to play this Thursday when the team visits the Cleveland Browns, but he may not be 100 percent.
Conner, who was injured late in the Steelers’ Week 8 win over the Miami Dolphins, missed his second straight game on Sunday, but said he anticipates playing on Thursday in Cleveland.
“I’m making a lot of progress on it and I think I’ll be good to go,” Conner said on Monday. “I can’t make any guarantees, but as of right now, I’m feeling good and things are looking very confident for me playing Thursday.” Conner suffered an AC joint sprain. The AC joint is the mechanism that allows people to move their arms upward and over their head. With the injury, he lost strength, and more importantly, that range of motion that has prevented him from doing his job.
“The game I was out vs. the Colts, Jaylen [Samuels] had 13 receptions,” Conner said. “Earlier on in the week, it was hard for me to get my arm above my head. Had that been me, maybe I wouldn’t have caught all those balls Jaylen did.”
The injury is similar to the one that cornerback Joe Haden suffered in Week 1 against the New England Patriots. Even though he did not miss a game, it took him several weeks of being limited in practice before he was fully healed. Similarly, Conner might not be at 100 percent when he does return to the lineup.
“It’s going to be pain management,” Conner said. “Play through it.”
Head coach Mike Tomlin said that he’s optimistic that Conner and left guard Ramon Foster will be able to return to action on Thursday.
“We full comfortable about his ability to be available to us, as we do Ramon Foster,” Tomlin said. “We have to get through the week in that regard.”
Tomlin was less than optimistic about the chances of injured running back Benny Snell, Jr. (meniscus) and fullback Roosevelt Nix (knee) rejoining the lineup. Additionally, three more players were injured on Sunday: Wide receiver and kick returner Ryan Switzer suffered a back injury, outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi a hip injury and outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo a rib cartilage injury.
Tomlin did not offer a prognosis for those players, but said the short week makes it difficult for them to prove their readiness.
“There won’t be a lot of opportunities through the course of the week for those guys to work into the rotation or show their availability.”
The Steelers did not practice on Monday, but gave a simulated injury report that listed Conner as a full participant, Foster as limited and the other five injured players as non-participants.