Steelers RB James Conner expected to exit concussion protocol Wednesday |

Steelers RB James Conner expected to exit concussion protocol Wednesday

Joe Rutter
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back James Conner celebrates his touchdown during the first quarter against the Panthers Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, at Heinz Field.

James Conner remains in concussion protocol, but Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin expects his starting running back on the field Wednesday.

Tomlin gave the Steelers a five-day break after their 52-21 victory against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday. The Steelers will practice Wednesday for the first time since that game.

“Part of getting out of the protocol is physical labor,” Tomlin said at his weekly press conference Tuesday. “We haven’t worked. He’ll be given an opportunity to work tomorrow, and I think it will lay all of those discussions to bed.”

Conner was examined for a concussion in the third quarter. He returned and carried on the final play of the quarter. The Steelers scored a touchdown on the opening play of the fourth quarter to build a 52-21 lead, and Conner did not return. Conner finished with 65 yards rushing on 13 carries.

Conner attended the Pitt-Virginia Tech game on Saturday and gave a pregame speech to the Panthers.

Tomlin wasn’t sure whether Conner’s symptoms resurfaced after he was inserted back into the game.

“I don’t know the intimate details,” he said. “I’m not a doctor or medical professional. I just lean on their expertise. When he’s available to me, I use him. When he’s not, I don’t.”

Tomlin also didn’t think it was unusual that he put Conner back into the game with the Steelers holding such a large lead. He said he didn’t know the game circumstances around Conner’s return.

“I don’t know what portion of the game you are talking about,” Tomlin said. “But to be honest with you, when he was available to us, we used him. When he wasn’t, we didn’t. … I’m watching the action going on on the field. I don’t know when that occurred. That’s what I mean when I say I lean on the expertise of the medical professionals.”

Tomlin said defensive end Stephon Tuitt has an elbow injury that could limit his practice participation this week. The only other injury is to right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who has missed three consecutive games with a knee injury but could return this week.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at [email protected] or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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