Steelers RB James Conner out vs. Raiders with ankle sprain |
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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: James Conner #30 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushes the ball in the first half during the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Running back James Conner will be unavailable for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders because of an ankle sprain.

Coach Mike Tomlin said Conner’s injury that he incurred against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night was “a little bit more significant than we initially thought.”

Tomlin originally listed the injury as a contusion but amended it Tuesday at his weekly press conference, calling it a sprain. He “didn’t know” if it was a potentially more serious high ankle sprain.

In his first season as a starter because of Le’Veon Bell’s holdout, Conner is fifth in the NFL with 909 rushing yards, and he leads the Steelers with 12 rushing touchowns. He also has 52 receptions for 467 yards and a touchdown.

With Conner out, the Steelers will turn to rookie fifth-round pick Jaylen Samuels, veteran Stevan Ridley and Trey Edmunds, who was promoted from the practice squad on Tuesday.

Tomlin said he will consider using a committee approach to replace Conner against the Raiders.

“That is our intentions as we sit here,” he said. “We have a preparation week ahead of us and sometimes the division of labor is revealed to you through that work.

“We have a great deal of confidence in Ridley, we’ve got a great deal of confidence in Jaylen, particularly of late. He’s a guy who has been on the rise in recent weeks.”

A converted tight end/fullback, Samuels scored his second career NFL touchdown after Conner exited with 4:45 remaining in the Steelers’ 33-30 loss to the Chargers. He caught a 10-yard touchdown reception two plays after Conner’s injury to help pull the Steelers into a 30-30 tie.

For the season, Samuels has 12 carries for 31 yards and seven catches for 54 yards and two scores.

Ridley hasn’t played on offense in three consecutive games and four of the past five. He has 18 carries for 56 yards and three catches for 18 yards.

Other injuries outlined by Tomlin included a knee injury for long snapper Kam Canaday that could limit him in practice this week. Linebacker Anthony Chickillo (ankle), fullback Roosevelt Nix (shoulder) were added to the injury report.

Wide receiver Ryan Switzer remains in concussion protocal but could practice Wednesday. Tomlin said right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who has missed six games in a row with a knee injury, could return to practice this week.

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