The Steelers are extremely healthy coming out of the bye week. This will make for some very interesting decisions when it comes to the 46 players who will be active on Sunday.
OT Marcus Gilbert
Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for Week 8:
OT Marcus Gilbert- when he didn’t practice at all this week, it makes sense for Gilbert to be ruled out for Sunday. He’s the only player on the injury report which is a good thing, but with Cleveland’s pass rush it would have be nice to have all starting five lineman.
QB Mason Rudolph- how would Steelers Nation react if, coming out of the bye, Rudolph was active and Dobbs was not? I don’t think we’re going to find out the answer to the question.
DT L.T. Walton- unless something crazy happened during practice the last two weeks, Walton is still the last guy on the depth chart. And with everyone else playing decently, it’s going to be tough to move out of there.
OT Zach Banner- he can continue to come in every week and collect a game paycheck without stepping on the field (unlike a certain RB who will remain nameless).
S Marcus Allen- I have no idea what’s going on here. I’m guessing the plan is to keep him inactive all season while he develops. Until the Steelers show they want use him on game day, I’m assuming he will never get a hat.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey or Justin Hunter- with everyone healthy, the Steelers can’t afford to dress every wide receiver. So someone’s got to sit. Hey-Bey has been out with an injury, but to not play him would be a healthy scratch since he’s not on the status report. Justin Hunter doesn’t bring anything to special teams. It will be very telling of how the Steelers want to do things moving forward with their receivers.
CB Brian Allen or S Jordan Dangerfield- both of these defensive backs are now buried on the depth chart and would only see the field on defense in an extreme circumstance. Both of them are valuable to special teams, but Dangerfield it is almost irreplaceable as the up-man for punts.
LB Matthew Thomas- if they really wanted someone else active, Thomas is the last LB to get on the field on defense. It just might not help in his development if they make him feel like he’s taking a step back. I think he’ll be dressed on Sunday.
WR- James Washington- it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility to decide to go with both Hunter and Heyward-Bey. Hunter was a part of the two-minute offense ahead of Washington last game, and Hey-Bey just brings so much to special teams. Just like with Thomas, I don’t think it would help Washington’s development by sitting him down.
TE Xavier Grimble- he was on the injury report earlier in the week with a concussion, but I assume he’s out of the protocol since he’s not on the game status report. He’s been getting used more and more extensively with creative sets, so it would be a shame if he did not play.
S Morgan Burnett- he practiced all week and is apparently ready to go. He could be held out as a precaution, but a healthy scratch would not makes sense if Burnett is in the plans for the rest of the season.
Projected Inactive List:
- Mason Rudolph
- L.T. Walton
- Zach Banner
- Marcus Allen
- Marcus Gilbert
- Justin Hunter
- Brian Allen
I believe this is inactive list is going to look almost exactly like this if there are no injuries, with the exception of Marcus Gilbert. But after a bye week, the Steelers could tweak their game plan with where they want to use people. So if there’s going to be any surprises when it comes to the inactive list, this would be the week.
Feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.