This week’s Ravens/Steelers game in Pittsburgh, originally scheduled for Thanksgiving night, has already been pushed back twice due to COVID. And while the AFC North rivals remain on track to play Tuesday night at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh will face Baltimore without its top rusher, James Conner, who has reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Steelers could soon have an outbreak on their hands—we saw how quickly COVID spread through the Ravens’ locker room with Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins among those testing positive. A cancer survivor, Conner may also be at greater risk of experiencing symptoms after previously battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
A one-time Pro Bowler and Steel City lifer (the Millcreek native attended the University of Pittsburgh prior to being drafted 105th overall in 2017), Conner has enjoyed a moderately successful season in his final year under contract, totaling 790 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns over 10 games for the undefeated Steelers. Without him, Pittsburgh will turn to some combination of Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland in the backfield with scarcely-used backup Jaylen Samuels also a candidate for increased reps.
Even with Conner shelved, the Steelers remain definitive seven-point favorites against the Ravens, who Pittsburgh ousted by a narrow 28-24 margin in Baltimore earlier this month. It’s been slim pickings for Baltimore of late with the reeling Ravens in danger of losing for the fourth time in five games. Former Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III will man the quarterback position Tuesday night, drawing just the second start of his three-year Ravens tenure. He’ll be joined on offense by Rutgers alum Gus Edwards, who figures to see the bulk of Baltimore’s rushing work with both Ingram and Dobbins unavailable.
The Ravens had been slated to host Dallas next Thursday, but that game has since been pushed back to Monday, December 7th, at 5 PM ET. Meanwhile the Steelers will only have four days to recover before the Washington Football Team (riding high after bludgeoning the Cowboys in a Thanksgiving massacre) comes to town next Sunday.