Conner pessimistic for Sunday: 'I'm just not ready yet'

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James Conner continues to work his way back from an ankle injury, but doesn't sound like a player who will be ready to return yet.

The Pittsburgh Steelers running back missed the past two games. He jogged around the practice field on Wednesday but officially didn't practice.

There was hope the Pro Bowl running back could return after sitting out a fortnight, but Conner's own comments sound pessimistic that he would be ready to face the New Orleans Saints.

"I'm trying," Conner said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It's day by day. These high-ankle sprains are deceiving. I can walk around fine, I'm not limping around, but when I'm out there on the field, cutting and stuff, I'm just not ready yet."

Conner admitted if he tried to play this week, he wouldn't be at full force.

"I want to go, but if I'm not feeling like me, then I wouldn't be James Conner. So I'm not going to go out there less than ready."

Teammates agree that getting Conner healthy for a potential playoff run is the goal. If he can't cut off the ankle, he wouldn't be as effective.

"I think they should give him a little more time to get it all right," center Maurkice Pouncey said, "because when we really need him, we're going to need him."

With Conner likely out another week, rookie Jaylen Samuels would get the call again following last week's 142-yard performance versus New England. Facing a Saints defense that ranks No. 1 in the NFL, allowing 79.1 yards per game on the ground, will be a much tougher task.

Regardless of who starts in the backfield, expect Ben Roethlisberger to sling the ball another 45 times this weekend.

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