Entering the 2020 season, all signs pointed to James Conner being the bell-cow in Pittsburgh.
On Monday Night Football against the Giants, the fourth-year running back encountered his first hurdle on his road to achieving that goal.
After starting the game and receiving six carries over the first three drives, Conner exited early in the second quarter with an ankle injury. It was announced on the ESPN broadcast during the fourth quarter that he was listed as questionable to return but he would end up missing the remainder of the contest.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero later reported, via an informed source, that Conner is dealing with an ankle sprain and is set to undergo further tests on Tuesday.
Second-year RB Benny Snell took over in Conner's place while Jaylen Samuels spelled him in spurts. The promising young back finished with 19 carries for 113 yards in a 26-16 Steelers win. Snell's best play came following a drive late in the third that saw him fumble --and nearly lose -- the ball. Snell shook off the faux pas and turned in a 30-yard scamper up the left side of the field on the ensuing series that eventually set up a touchdown pass.
The sight of Conner missing valuable PT again has to be a major frustration for the 25-year-old and coach Mike Tomlin. Conner missed six games last season due to various ailments, and was tabbed to be the leader in the Steelers' young backfield in 2020. He finished the 2019 campaign with 464 rushing yards on 116 carries and four touchdowns to go along with 34 receptions for 251 yards and three scores.
The extent of his injury is still unknown, but, should it result in him missing extended time, the Steelers could look to Snell to receive the bulk of the carries moving forward.