Steelers' James Conner believes 'it'll be a little bit longer' before he returns after re-injuring shoulder

It doesn't appear like the Pittsburgh Steelers will be welcoming starting running back James Conner back into the fold in the immediate future. The third year back re-injured the AC joint in his shoulder back in Week 11 against the Cleveland Browns and was inactive for Pittsburgh's Week 12 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. 

While appearing on 93.7 The Fan on Monday, Conner gave an update on his health and preached patience with his recovery. He noted that if he tries to rush back in a similar circumstance like he did in Week 11 against Cleveland, he could be looking at a situation where he'd eventually have to go under the knife. 

"I'm definitely making progress on it," said Conner. "Getting a lot more strength in there, more stabilization. It's tough to say ... 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 until I have enough stabilization and strength, and that tendon gets a little bit stronger, because that's kind of what I had -- a minor setback -- when I tried to play versus Cleveland.

"You know, it's killing me not being out there. I work so hard and I just want to be out there and help contribute and help win games, but it's the situation I'm in right now. I'm making a lot of progress. Waiting for those ligaments to get a little bit stronger just so we don't have any setbacks because if I go out there and it's not right then I eventually will need surgery, which would put me back another couple of months."

When pressed on any specific timeline of a potential return, Conner left that up in the air and simply noted that it'll take "a little bit longer," which seemingly puts his chances of playing in Week 13 against the Browns in serious doubt. 

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

While Conner is certainly the best back for Pittsburgh over the long-term, they were able to operate fine against the Bengals, rushing for 160 yards on 4.2 yards a carry. Benny Snell Jr. carried a majority of the load in that game totaling 98 yards on 21 carries in the win. As long as the Steelers can continue to get production from Snell, Jaylen Samuels and others, they may not need to rush Conner back, giving him more time to heal up that shoulder injury. 

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