Steelers running back James Conner is unlikely to play in Sunday's showdown against the New England Patriots in Pittsburgh because of an ankle injury, according to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Conner missed Pittsburgh's loss at Oakland last week and practiced on a limited basis Friday after sitting out Tuesday and Wednesday. He is expected to be ready for the Week 16 game against the Saints in New Orleans.
Jaylen Samuels replaced Conner in the starting lineup against Oakland and rushed for only 28 yards on 11 carries, but caught seven passes for 64 yards. Stevan Ridley also played and managed only four yards on five carries with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Conner has stepped up this season after All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell held out for a new contract and has not reported, leading the Steelers with 909 yards rushing on 201 carries, a 4.5-yard average and 12 touchdowns, in addition to catching 52 passes for 467 yards and another score.
Pittsburgh (7-5-1) leads the AFC North by one-half game over Baltimore and has the worst record among the four AFC division leaders.
Ridley, a third-round pick by New England in the 2011 draft, rushed for 649 yards and 22 touchdowns in four seasons with the Patriots (2011-14) before moving on to the New York Jets, Atlanta and Pittsburgh.