Conner (ankle) is inactive for Sunday's game against the Patriots.
This is the expected outcome after Conner was downgraded from questionable to doubtful Saturday. On the plus side, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that the Steelers expect the running back to be available for Week 16's game against the Saints. Against the Patriots, however, Jaylen Samuels is once again in line to head Pittsburgh's backfield, with Stevan Ridley on hand to work in a complementary role against the team he played for from the 2011 season through 2014.
Conner (ankle) is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against the Patriots and isn't likely to play, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports the Steelers expect him back for the Week 16 game in New Orleans.
The strong likelihood of Conner missing a second straight game this weekend is still a disappointing development for a team still clawing for the AFC North title, but it's encouraging news that his sprained ankle doesn't seem to threaten his availability for a potential postseason run. The Steelers will lean on Jaylen Samuels as their primary runner and pass catcher out of the backfield again versus New England, with Stevan Ridley likely to spell him mainly in short-yardage situations.
The designation change doesn't come as a surprise after Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported less than an hour earlier that the Steelers weren't expecting Conner to be ready to go this weekend. Unless his sprained ankle feels better than anticipated Sunday, Conner will be sidelined for a second straight game, paving the way for Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley to shoulder the team's backfield duties. It was Ridley who reached the end zone in the Week 14 loss to the Raiders, but Samuels dominated the offensive snaps and touches by 48-8 and 18-5 margins, respectively.
Conner (ankle) is not expected to play against the Patriots on Sunday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
While Conner is listed as doubtful, it appears likely the second-year running back will miss his second straight game with a troublesome mid-to-high ankle injury. Rapoport seemed to suggest Conner would be good to go in Week 16, but at least in the immediate future Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley will once again split time in the Pittsburgh backfield. Samuels handled almost the entire load in Week 14 against the Raiders, carrying the ball 11 times for 28 yards while adding seven catches for 64 yards, but it was Ridley who scored the red zone touchdown and figures to reprise his goal line role against the Patriots.
After being held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday, Conner returned as a limited participant to wrap up Week 15 preparations. The appearance indicates he has a chance to play through a mid-to-high ankle sprain this weekend after missing one game as a result of the injury. If he's unable to take on the Patriots' 15th-ranked run defense, Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley are on hand to fuel the ground game.
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