Even if the Pittsburgh Steelers end up playing their last game of the 2018 season on Sunday, there is still a chance fans will get a final opportunity to see James Conner in action one more time before the year is out. Although there were five players sitting out of practice on Wednesday, Conner was not one of them after he was able to take a full part in training for the first time since injuring his ankle against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 13.
RB James Conner (ankle) was full participant in practice today. Not practicing because of injury were S. Davis (quad), V. Williams (toe). Also off for coach's decision were Roethlisberger, A. Brown and Pouncey— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) December 26, 2018
In light of the injuries to Vince Williams and Sean Davis that Mike Tomlin had highlighted during his press conference the day before, it should come as no surprise to note that both were held out of the first practice session of the week. Thankfully, they were the only players missing training for health reasons with Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey and Antonio Brown all the recipients of a veteran rest day.
While the return to practice for Conner is something of a late Christmas gift for his fans, it is far from guaranteed that he will be cleared to play on Sunday. When speaking to the media after his first full training session in several weeks, Conner gave little away about his expectations for the weekend. As reported by Teresa Varley of Steelers.com.
“It’s getting better. I am just getting better every day. I wish I could have played the last three weeks. It’s getting better. Hoping for the best.”
Steelers RB James Conner (ankle) who practiced in full for the first time since Nov. 30, stuck to one line for any questions about his high ankle sprain: “Getting better.” pic.twitter.com/OxEg4r46cV— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) December 26, 2018
James Conner on his ankle injury and controlling what is in front of him. pic.twitter.com/V4pQH5VDZU— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 26, 2018
Given the reality of Pittsburgh’s situation, it would be fair to suggest there is no longer a need to rush Conner back. Jaylen Samuels has also played well enough in his absence to suggest he can more than handle paying against Cincinnati. With their chances of post-season play reliant on the Cleveland Browns beating the Baltimore Ravens or the Tennessee Titans tying with the Indianapolis Colts, it seems rather likely that the outcome of the Steelers game will ultimately be irrelevant anyway.