Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner has entered the concussion protocol after being taken to the locker room during Thursday night's 52-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers, according to NFL.com's Austin Knoblauch.
The 23-year-old had 65 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries before exiting the game. Veteran Stevan Ridley (eight carries for 26 yards) helped close out the game.
A backup behind Le'Veon Bell during his rookie season, Conner recorded 32 carries for 144 yards. He suffered an MCL injury in Week 15 that resulted in him being placed on injured reserve.
Conner has served as the Steelers' primary running back with Bell continuing to hold out. He has rushed for 706 yards and nine touchdowns through the first 10 games. His emergence has had the Steelers offense looking every bit as explosive as it has during Bell's tenure.
Bell has reached out to Conner while he's been away from the team.
"Anytime I do something good on the field," Conner told reporters, "I always come back in the locker room and see a text from him saying, ‘Good game,’ or ‘Nice move right there.' Le'Veon's super cool. He’s a great person. Him holding out, people are gonna call him selfish, but that’s not the case at all. It’s his business. He’s my guy."
Not only that, but the three-time Pro Bowler has been Conner's No. 1 fan:
Pittsburgh is now off until Nov. 18. Playing on a Thursday night gives Conner a few extra days to try to pass through the concussion protocol. In the meantime, all eyes will be on the Steelers' backfield, as Bell has until next week to sign a franchise tender.