James Conner could return from injured ankle as soon as Steelers' Week 15 game vs. Patriots

The Steelers believe that star running back James Conner could be back as soon as Week 15 after injuring his ankle in a loss to the Chargers last week. Conner has become a centerpiece of the Pittsburgh offense, with Le'Veon Bell skipping the entire season in a contract dispute, and quickly earned the trust of teammates and coaches.

Coach Mike Tomlin quickly ruled Conner out for this weekend's trip to Oakland, but the Steelers do not anticipate that being the case again next week, sources said. They truly view the injury as week-to-week, and will likely wait to see how much Conner can do in practice on Wednesday and Thursday next week before deciding on his status for Week 15.

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The Steelers suddenly find themselves in a battle for the AFC North lead, after successive losses to the Broncos and Chargers, coupled with a three-game winning streak by the Ravens. They will go with a running back-by-committee approach until Conner returns. With another weekend of rest and treatment, his absence might not be too long, and regardless, at this point there is no sense that he is facing a prolonged recovery.   

The Steelers will play host to the Patriots in Week 15, before finishing the regular season at the Saints and then home for the Bengals.

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Before joining CBS Sports, Jason La Canfora was the Washington Redskins beat writer for The Washington Post for six years and served as NFL Network's insider. The Baltimore native can be seen every Sunday... Full Bio

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