Steelers RB James Conner has chance to return for Week 15 showdown vs. Pats

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner, who is out Sunday because of an ankle sprain, has a chance to return next week to play the New England Patriots, a league source told ESPN.

The source added that if the Super Bowl were this week, he believes Conner could have and would have played, giving the Steelers some hope that the NFL's fifth-leading rusher has a reasonable chance to play in next Sunday's big AFC matchup.

Conner suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of last Sunday night's loss to the Chargers. Some sources believe he has a high ankle sprain, though different sprains sideline different players for varying amounts of time.

The Steelers will rely on a combination of Jaylen Samuels, Stevan Ridley and Trey Edmunds, who was signed off the practice squad, at running back on Sunday against the Raiders.

Conner has rushed for 909 yards and 12 touchdowns, the second most in the NFL this season. He also has emerged as a weapon in Pittsburgh's passing game, hauling in 52 receptions -- third most on the team -- for 467 yards.