Steelers running back James Conner believes he will play this Sunday, he said on his radio show on 93.7 The Fan on Monday.
Conner left in the second half of the Steelers’ 28-26 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday with a knee injury and the team announced that he was questionable to return, but he did not.
Conner told Steelers Now after the game that he did not have any structural damage to his knee, but he wasn’t sure how long he will be out. Both after the game Sunday and during Monday’s open locker room, Conner did not appear to be in any obvious physical discomfort.
“I don’t think it’s long term,” Conner said on The Fan on Monday. “I’m pretty confident I’ll be out there this coming Sunday. … They said it’s a bruise or contusion, no tear.”
Conner had 33 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries before leaving the game with the injury. He also caught three passes for 12 yards. He was replaced by second-year running back Jaylen Samuels.
“I tried everything I could to get back in the game but I would be doing the team disservice if I wasn’t able to accelerate,” Conner said.
Conner has a history of knee injuries. He suffered a torn MCL in his junior season at Pitt in 2015 and suffered the same injury as an NFL rookie in 2017.
He broke out for his first Pro Bowl season in 2018, when he replaced Le’Veon Bell as the Steelers primary ballcarrier and recored 973 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.
The news of Conner’s health will be a welcome one for the Steelers. He was one of five players injured on Sunday. The team announced Monday that starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season with an elbow injury.
Steelers Injury Updates: Diontae Johnson in Protocol; Derek Watt, Marcus Allen Doubtful
Steelers fullback Derek Watt will likely not play this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, while linebacker Marcus Allen is doubtful to suit up and wide receiver Diontae Johnson remains in the concussion protocol.
Watt suffered a hamstring injury in the first half of the Steelers’ Week 3 win over the Houston Texans and did not return. Tomlin said he may participate in practice this week, but should be considered doubtful-to-out for Sunday.
Allen was not listed among the team’s injured after Sunday’s game, but Tomlin called him doubtful to participate this week while dealing with plantar fasciitis.
Johnson remains in the concussion protocol, which means that the team will not further update his status except for participation or non-participation in practice. He was injured on a reverse in the second quarter against Houston and did not return to the game.
Steelers WR Diontae Johnson Says He’s ‘Fine’ after Leaving Game in Concussion Protocol
Johnson took a hard hit while running a reverse that helped set up a Steelers score. He left the game and went to the locker room for evaluation, with the team first ruling him as questionable to return before downgrading him to out at the half. Johnson did not return to the Steelers’ sideline in the second half.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did not offer a further update on Johnson or fellow injured players Derek Watt after the game, but Johnson took to social media to both update his condition and express his happiness over the team’s victory.
“I’m fine,” Johnson wrote. “Great team win though.”
I’m fine! Great team win though 🙏🏾
— Diontae Johnson (@Juiceup__3) September 27, 2020
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger credited the rest of the Steelers’ receiving corps for stepping up in Johnson’s absence.
Steelers Injury Updates: JuJu Smith-Schuster Misses Second Straight Practice
Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro was a full participant during practice Thursday, while wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) did not practice for the second-straight day.
Smith-Schuster seemingly finished the Steelers’ Week 2 game against the Broncos without issue and was not among the players listed by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin as expected limited participants this week.
He also missed Wednesday’s practice last week, but practiced on Thursday and Friday before playing against Denver. His status for Sunday’s game will likely be resolved based on whether or not he can practice on Friday.
DeCastro missed the majority of training camp and the Steelers’ first two games of the season with a knee injury, but has now practiced for consecutive days, likely putting him in line to return this Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Wide receiver Diontae Johnson (toe) and defensive tackle Tyson Alualu (knee contusion) were full-go after missing practice on Wednesday with minor ailments. Both are coming off big games against the Denver Broncos last week.
Johnson caught eight passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, while Alualu posted five total tackles, two tackles-for-loss and a sack.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, center Maurkice Pouncey and defensive ends Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt also returned to the practice field after a scheduled day off Wednesday.
Center J.C. Hassenauer participated fully on Thursday, but has been added to the injury report with an ankle injury.