PITTSBURGH STEELERS UPDATE 

lCONNER, SMITH-SCHUSTER UNLIKELY TO PLAY; SNELL, JOHNSON ON TRACK

Following up on this week's Team Notes. ... As Steelers.com's Teresa Varley reported, James Conner was a spectator. JuJu Smith-Schuster was a spectator. Nick Vannett didn’t practice because of an illness. And Bud Dupree, who is having one of his best seasons, was limited with an arm injury.

But there was good news.

Diontae Johnson, Benny Snell and Ola Adeniyi were all on the field on Wednesday as the team began preparation for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. And they were all full participants.

“Looking forward to see him get back to us and doing what he does,” said James Washington about Johnson. “It was good to see (him out at practice). He is an asset to us. Having him out there has someone who knows what his role is.

“I guess it’s still in the air, but he looked good, he said he felt good, so that is a plus.”

Smith-Schuster, Johnson and Adeniyi are all in the NFL concussion protocol, and a knee injury is also hampering Smith-Schuster.

One of the steps in the protocol is returning to practice, which Johnson and Adeniyi both did on Wednesday.

“We have three guys who are in the protocol, and the protocol will run its course,” said head coach Mike Tomlin during his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “We’ll wait to get word on their availability as we begin to push through the week. JuJu also has a knee injury, but the protocol is the first and foremost of the things he’s dealing with. We’ll take a look at the knee injury and his ability to function or not as he gains clearance through the protocol and gets potential practice opportunities.”

Snell was back at practice after missing the last three games with a knee injury.

“I’m excited about the potential return of Benny Snell, who’s coming off a knee injury,” said Tomlin. ‘He has been cleared to practice this week, and we’ll get him on the field and see what he looks like. Not only in terms of his health, but a young guy like him who has missed a block of time, we’ll be focused on his ability to execute and execute in great detail. And so he’s got a two-pronged thing he has to answer – not only health but game readiness from a detail and knowledge standpoint, which is a reasonable process for a young guy.”

With Conner not practicing, it leaves question marks at the running back spot for this week, but with Snell back, as well as Jaylen Samuels and Trey Edmunds, they are ready to handle whatever comes their way.

For the record, Associated Press Steelers beat writer Will Graves, during a Wednesday night appearance with the FootballDiehards on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio, told listeners that Conner and Smith-Schuster have almost no chance of playing this week.

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