Steelers RB Jaylen Samuels has knee surgery, could miss a month

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers will be without another skill player on offense as running back Jaylen Samuels will miss "roughly a month" after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Monday, coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday.

Samuels, who was spotted at the Steelers' practice facility on crutches Tuesday, suffered a knee sprain Sunday during a loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

"[It] showed up after the game," Tomlin said. "We had him evaluated and saw that was necessary. So we made the decision to fix it and fix it ASAP."

After not touching the ball during a Week 3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Samuels' role in the offense increased in the next two games as the Steelers leaned on his versatile playmaking abilities with the Wildcat formation.

Samuels took seven direct snaps during a win against the Cincinnati Bengals and later scored a touchdown. Pittsburgh tried to use him in a similar way against the Ravens, but the results weren't as productive, as Samuels threw an interception on the first direct snap in the first quarter and the Steelers shelved the package until late in the game.

With Samuels out, James Conner again becomes the primary back for Sunday night's game against the Los Angeles Chargers. He'll be helped by rookie Benny Snell, who has six carries for 30 yards this season.

Samuels might be back to face the Los Angeles Rams in Week 10 -- missing just three games, with the Week 7 bye.

While Tomlin provided a somewhat concrete timeline for Samuels' return, quarterback Mason Rudolph's recovery is much less clear. Rudolph, who entered the concussion protocol Sunday after a hit by Ravens safety Earl Thomas, was at the Steelers' facility Monday and talked with Tomlin.

"When he's available to us, he's available to us," Tomlin said. "Just from interacting with him, it's good to see him, obviously. He appears to be doing fine and has expressed that. That's all I have in terms of intimate details regarding him or his status or what the week could potentially look like. I don't want to get into the speculation. That could be endless."

Tomlin also mentioned cornerback Steven Nelson has a groin injury, and the availability for wide receiver James Washington (shoulder) and linebacker Mark Barron (hamstring) is questionable. Linebacker Anthony Chickillo (plantar fasciitis) and fullback Roosevelt Nix (knee) could return this week.