James Conner tried to give it a go on Wednesday, as Pittsburgh's running back took part in some position drills at the start of the Steelers' first practice in preparation for Sunday's road game against the New Orleans Saints. But despite his efforts, Conner's injured ankle kept him from participating in Wednesday's practice. Conner, who didn't play in each of Pittsburgh's last two games after sustaining the injury near the end of Pittsburgh's Week 13 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, admitted that his ankle is not quite ready after trying to practice on Wednesday.
"I'm trying, man," Conner said following Wednesday's practice, via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "It's day by day. These high ankle sprains are deceiving. I can walk around fine, Im not limping. When I'm out there on the field, cutting and stuff, I'm not ready yet."
The question now to be asked is whether or not Conner will play again during the 2018 regular season. Following Sunday's game against the Saints, the Steelers will host the Cincinnati Bengals in their regular season finale. Pittsburgh offensive lineman Ramon Foster said after Wednesday's practice that an "ideal scenario." The Steelers can clinch the AFC North division this Sunday with a win over New Orleans and a Baltimore Ravens' loss to the Chargers in Los Angeles on Saturday. They can clinch a playoff spot with a win on Sunday and losses by the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans.
If Conner can't go on Sunday, the job of Pittsburgh's starting running back will again to go Jaylen Samuels. A fifth round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Samuels rushed for 142 yards on 19 carries in Sunday's 17-10 win over the New England Patriots. He also caught two passes for 30 yards while helping Pittsburgh defeat New England for the first time since 2011, when Samuels was a 15-year-old high school student. On Wednesday, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said that it didn't take long to notice Samuels' unique skill set during Pittsburgh's spring practices.