NFL notebook: Steelers expecting RB Conner back for Pats

Steelers running back James Conner practiced on a limited basis Friday and is expected to return to the Pittsburgh lineup for a key AFC affair with the New England Patriots on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: Dec 2, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) rushes the ball as Los Angeles Chargers defensive back Desmond King (20) chases during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Conner was seen walking without a limp after Thursday’s practice and declared himself ready to roll, but the Steelers will officially list him as questionable.

The renewal of the Steelers-Patriots rivalry is a headliner of Week 15 as Pittsburgh slides into the game on a three-game losing streak, holding a narrow lead over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North and at risk of being thrust into a dogfight with numerous teams for the final spot in the AFC playoffs with another loss.

Conner has 1,376 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns.

—Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Zack Martin will miss a game for the first time in his career Sunday, bringing to end a streak of 77 straight regular-season starts.

A Pro Bowl selection each of his first four seasons and a two-time first-team All-Pro, Martin was ruled out against the Colts because of a knee injury.

Rookie Connor Williams will start in Martin’s place.

—New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans as he recovers from an ailing quadriceps, coach Pat Shurmur announced.

Beckham, originally injured in Week 12 against Philadelphia, missed last Sunday’s victory over the Redskins because of the injury.

Beckham has 77 receptions for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games this season.

—Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller was to undergo surgery for a fractured wrist Friday and is likely to miss time, NFL Network reported.

Fuller played with the injury in Thursday’s 29-28 loss to the Chargers.

While a recovery window will reportedly be established once the surgery is performed, it typically takes six weeks for a complete recovery from a wrist fracture. That would stretch to the AFC championship game or even the Super Bowl.

—Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was downgraded to doubtful for his team’s game against the Rams on the official injury report because of a stress fracture in his back.

Head coach Doug Pederson said that Wentz will need up to three months for a complete recovery. The team is measuring whether Wentz could do significant damage by playing in a game with the injury.

—Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin was a practice participant for the second straight day and is expected to be available when the team visits the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Baldwin missed Monday night’s win over the Minnesota Vikings due to a hip injury. The Seahawks listed him as questionable for the game against San Francisco.

—The New York Jets are placing leading rusher Isaiah Crowell on injured reserve with a toe injury, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Coach Todd Bowles said Elijah McGuire (158 yards) and rookie Trenton Cannon (80) will get heavy work in the backfield in an effort to make up for Crowell’s production (685 yards, six touchdowns).

—The NFL indefinitely suspended Oakland Raiders receiver Martavis Bryant for violating his reinstatement terms stemming from a previous ban under the league’s substance abuse policy.

The 27-year-old reportedly violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy during the offseason but played through appeal. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season and the entire 2016 season because of positive drug tests while he was with the Steelers.

—Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was fined $26,739 for lowering his head to initiate contact Sunday against Philadelphia defensive back Corey Graham, Elliott’s second fine in four weeks.

—First-year Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy received seven of 10 possible first place votes among a panel of 10 Associated Press football writers asked to name the NFL coach doing the best job this season.

—The Jacksonville Jaguars signed kicker Kai Forbath in case Josh Lambo (right groin injury) is unable to kick Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

—New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees finished first in the fan ballot portion of Pro Bowl voting with 1,270,631 votes. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (1,197,370 votes) was second.

—Field Level Media

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