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Injuries: Tomlin doesn't rule out James Conner vs. Pats

Last Tuesday, Mike Tomlin ruled out running back James Conner early in the week.

Today, the Pittsburgh Steelers coach made no such proclamations. Tomlin did not rule out Conner to play this week against the New England Patriots, noting practice will tell the tale whether the starting running back can return, per NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala.

Conner is dealing with an ankle injury suffered in Week 13 and his prognosis for this week remains up in the air.

The Steelers running game was stymied sans Conner in Sunday's road loss to the Oakland Raiders. Starter Jaylen Samuels compiled just 28 rushing yards on 11 attempts, and veteran backup Stevan Ridley added five carries for four yards and a touchdown. Samuels chipped in seven receptions for 64 yards, but the Steelers sorely missed Conner's ability to churn out yards on the ground.

Updates on Conner's status will come as the week progresses, but Tomlin not ruling out the running back right away is one baby step. The Steelers, losers of three straight, sorely need Conner back to end their skid against the Patriots.

As for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (ribs), who was injured on Sunday against the Raiders and returned following a confusing turn of events, he said he expects to play against the Patriots.

In other injury news we're following on Tuesday:

  1. The Chargers are likely to be without running backs Melvin Gordon (knee) and Austin Ekeler (neck, concussion) for Thursday night's AFC West showdown with the Chiefs, Los Angeles coach Anthony Lynn told NFL Network's Steve Wyche.

Wyche added that Ekeler is in concussion protocol.

Ekeler, nose tackle Brandon Mebane (not injury related) and cornerback Trevor Williams (knee) did not practice on Tuesday, while Gordon saw limited work.

  1. The Chiefs running back Spencer Ware (shoulder), receiverSammy Watkins (foot) and guard Cam Erving (knee) didn't practice. In some good news for Kansas City, receiver Tyreek Hill (heel/wrist) practiced, as did safety Eric Berry (Achilles), who was limited. NFL Network's Omar Ruiz reported that Hill is expected to play along with newly acquired receiver Kelvin Benjamin.
  1. Eagles running back Corey Clement (knee) was put on injured reserve Tuesday. In a subsequent move, the Eagles signed running back Boston Scott from the Saints' practice squad.
  1. Texans receiver Keke Coutee (hamstring) is "trending towards being able to play," coach Bill O'Brien said at Tuesday's press conference.
  1. Browns cornerback Denzel Ward (concussion) did not practice on Wednesday and his availability against the Broncos on Saturday is up in the air as interim coach Gregg Williams told reports Wednesday, "if he can't practice, it will be tough."
  1. Bears cornerback Bryce Callahan suffered a broken bone in his foot in Sunday's win over the Rams, sources told NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. "His timeline is TBD but he'll likely be out a while," Garafolo tweeted.
  1. Titans offensive tackle Jack Conklin (knee) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. Tight end Jonnu Smith (knee) was likewise put on IR, while offensive lineman Austin Pasztor and tight end Cole Wick, who was with the 49ers practice squad, have been added to the roster.
  1. Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton didn't practice Tuesday because of a quad injury. Defensive end Derek Wolfe remains in concussion protocol, coach Vance Joseph said.
  1. The Lions sent defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) and tight end Michael Roberts (shoulder) to injured reserve on Tuesday. A source told Rapoport that Ansah needs surgery to repair his labrum, which he tried to play through. With the surgery, Ansah should be ready for training camp in 2019, Rapoport added.
  1. Linebacker Kevin Minter (calf) was sent to injured reserve on Tuesday by the Buccaneers, who then promoted tight end Tanner Hudson from the practice squad.
  1. The Cardinals sent defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche on injured reserve Tuesday. Nkemdiche left Sunday's game against the Lions with a knee injury.
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