Steelers' Le'Veon Bell expected next week; James Conner has concussion

Nov. 9 (UPI) — Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner is dealing with a concussion as Le’Veon Bell is set to return to the team next week.

Conner has been filling in for Bell, who has not played in a game this season after holding out during the preseason and not signing his franchise tender. Conner has produced like one of the best running backs in the league, piling up 771 rushing yards and 10 scores on the season.

But the AFC Offensive Player of the Month for October suffered a concussion during the Steelers’ victory against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday, according to coach Mike Tomlin. Conner left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return. He was briefly examined in the sideline medical tenth during the third quarter after taking a hit, but returned to the game before leaving during the final quarter.

Conner had 65 yards and a score on 13 carries.

Before Thursday’s game, Steelers owner Art Rooney II provided some insight about when the Steelers’ All-Pro running back would return.

“I don’t know what his plans are, but I would say at this point we expect him to come back next week,” Steelers owner Art Rooney II said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “We know he’s back in Pittsburgh and so we’re hoping to have some communications with him over the weekend and we’re kind of expecting he will be back next week.”

Bell has not publicly declared when he will return to Pittsburgh. He has to sign his franchise tender or accept a one-year deal with the Steelers before Tuesday’s deadline or he cannot retain his playing eligibility for the 2018 season and cannot become a free agent this offseason.

The Steelers have a mini bye week this week because they played on Thursday. Pittsburgh’s next game is against the Jacksonville Jaguars at 1 p.m. on Nov. 18 in Jacksonville.

Bell, 26, had 155 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on 25 touches against the Jaguars in a divisional round playoff game on Jan. 14 in Pittsburgh.

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