After getting rolled up on late in the fourth quarter of last Sunday night’ eventual loss to the Chargers, James Conner had to go to the locker room and never returned to the game. At the time of the injury, it had the look of one that could force Conner to miss some time. However, the next day coach Mike Tomlin described the ailment as a “lower leg contusion”, which is a fancy name for a bruise. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport doubled down on that and said Conner’s injury was “not considered major at all.” All signs were pointing to Conner escaping a serious issue.
However, on Tuesday the Steelers promoted RB Trey Edmunds from the practice squad, hinting at some concern over Conner. Roughly an hour-and-a-half late, Tomlin then announced Conner has already been ruled out for Week 14 against the lowly Raiders. Perhaps the opponent is playing a role in Conner being deemed unavailable, but Dr. David Chao (@ProFootballDoc) has intimated this is a high-ankle sprain for Conner. Chao has obviously not personally evaluated Conner, but he routinely correctly diagnoses injuries with clear video evidence. High-ankle sprains are typically multi-week issues. With Conner out, the Steelers will now turn to rookie Jaylen Samuels and veteran Stevan Ridley, with Edmunds backing them up. Tomlin intends to use a committee, but this offense has always preferred workhorse backs and one runner to play the bulk of the snaps. Samuels is the top waiver-wire pickup of the week as fantasy playoffs kick off. The 6’/225 rookie has 12 carries on the year and was an all-purpose RB/WR/TE hybrid at NC State, catching 201 passes and rushing 182 times. He has massive upside in this offense, with workload being the lone uncertainty.
D-Jax to Miss the Remainder of 2018?
DeSean Jackson practiced all last week with a cast on his injured hand and thumb before eventually being ruled out against the Panthers because he simply couldn’t catch the football. Chris Godwin ended up playing a season-high 80% of the snaps and ran 36 routes — tied with Mike Evans — while posting a 5-101-1 line. Word out of Tampa Bay via ESPN Bucs reporter Jenna Laine is it’s “quite possible” Jackson is held out the remainder of the season. Laine says Jackson is still “frustrated” in Tampa Bay, and she believes Jackson will be released in the offseason now that his guaranteed money has run dry on his contract. Godwin is simply the better player at the stages of their respective careers and deserves this five-week promotion to end the year. If Jackson is indeed held out, Godwin is a rock-solid WR2 in a pass-heavy offense with obvious WR1 upside.
Bills Throw in Towel on Kelvin Benjamin
The Bills sent third- and seventh-round picks to the Panthers for Kelvin Benjamin a little over one year ago at the 2017 trade deadline. Benjamin played 18 games with the team before getting released on Tuesday, along with fellow veteran WR Andre Holmes. In his 18 contests with Buffalo, Benjamin amassed 39 catches for 571 yards and two touchdowns on 89 targets. That is pitiful. Benjamin didn’t have any good quarterback play this season and drew Tyrod Taylor as his passer last season. Still, Benjamin showed zero interest in becoming better or even helping Josh Allen’s development. This was a move that had to be made. Benjamin was set to become a free agent in March, anyway, and wasn’t going to be re-signed by GM Brandon Beane. Benjamin turns 28 in February. Odds are he’ll get another chance, but there’s no doubt Benjamin’s lack of work ethic will turn off teams.
The Redskins are signing QB Josh Johnson to be Mark Sanchez’s backup as they play out the string on the season. Johnson hasn’t thrown a regular-season pass since 2011. … The Raiders signed RB C.J. Anderson. We have no idea how he fits in alongside Doug Martin, Jalen Richard, and DeAndre Washington after all three lost fumbles in Week 13 against the Chiefs. … Dolphins placed TE AJ Derby (foot) on injured reserve. … Texans activated RB D’Onta Foreman (Achilles’) from reserve/PUP. Lamar Miller has been excellent the last month and a half and is in no danger of losing his lead gig. … Ex-Seahawks CB Brandon Browner was sentenced to eight years in prison for attempted murder. … Malcolm Brown (shoulder) will miss the remainder of the regular season after getting hurt in Week 13. … Greg Olsen (foot) is done for the season. … Colt McCoy (leg) will be out about one month. … The NFL is reportedly looking into three other off-field incidents involving Kareem Hunt. This thing has a long way to go. … Steelers WR Ryan Switzer is in the concussion protocol. … Chris Carson (finger) is expected to play Monday night against the Vikings after leaving Week 13 early. … Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) is “getting better” and should return this week against the Rams.