James Conner (ankle) ruled out for Steelers-Raiders

The Pittsburgh Steelers will attempt to rebound from back-to-back losses without its dual-threat running back.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin announced Tuesday that James Conner is out for the Week 14 tilt versus the Oakland Raiders.

Tomlin said tests came back showing the leg injury suffered in Sunday night's loss to the Los Angeles Chargers came back more serious than their initial indications. The coach described the injury as a sprain, not a contusion as first thought.

"James Conner's injury is probably a little more significant than we initially thought," Tomlin told reporters. "I don't know if you would describe it as a high-ankle sprain. It is an ankle sprain, much more than a contusion initially thought to be."

Conner exited Sunday's loss late in the fourth quarter after totaling 74 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Tomlin didn't indicate whether the injury could force Conner to miss more than one week.

The second-year Pitt product has filled in splendidly for Le'Veon Bell, who is sitting out the season after not signing his franchise tender. Conner's blend of power, speed, and pass catching ability fit perfectly into the Steelers' offense. In 12 games, the 23-year-old galloped for 909 rushing yards on 201 carries, and 467 receiving yards on 52 catches with 13 total touchdowns (12 rushing).

With Conner out, rookie Jaylen Samuels will likely be first in line. The N.C. State product took over late versus the Chargers and caught a 10-yard touchdown pass. Stevan Ridley and Trey Edmunds are also candidates for snaps.

Tomlin said he expects to employ a committee approach against the Raiders.

"That is our intention as we sit here," the coach said, noting one of the backs has a chance to impress and earn more snaps.

The Steelers have favored the pass more in recent weeks. Conner hadn't seen more than 15 totes in the past four games, while Ben Roethlisberger has averaged more than 49 passes in the past three tilts. Expect Pittsburgh to stay skewed toward the pass even more sans Conner.

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