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Predicting the Steelers’ Week 12 inactive list vs. the Bengals

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With Conner and Smith-Schuster both out, five spots will need to be filled

NFL: NOV 14 Steelers at Browns Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What a difference three months makes. If we were to take a picture of the Steelers 46 players active on game day in Week 12 and critique it back in August, it would seem almost unrecognizable. Between injuries, trades, a suspension, and more injuries, the Steelers roster is not at all what we expected. Regardless of the names on the back of the jerseys, the Steelers will still go onto the field at Paul Brown Stadium expecting to take care of business. Until then, let’s take a look at the seven players who may not get a helmet on Sunday.

Game Status

RB James Conner (shoulder)
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion/knee)

CB Artie Burns (knee)

Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for Week 12:


RB James Conner- to say many Steelers’ fans are beginning question Conner’s durability, missing yet another game will not help the narrative. It looks like coming back last week may have been a big mistake.

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster- it will be his first game missed since his rookie season. Whether it was the concussion or the knee that was the determining factor, the attention Smith-Schuster gets from the defense will be greatly missed.

Most Likely:

CB Artie Burns- being on the most likely list is probably an understatement as the Steelers have not listed any players as doubtful and had them playing the game. Burns was limited early in the week but trending in the wrong direction by not practicing Friday.

QB Paxton Lynch- there was a report when Lynch was signed that he was projected to take over the backup role as the Steelers were uncertain about Devlin Hodges. After Hodges start in Los Angeles, Lynch has been inactive ever since.

OT Chukwuma Okorafor- where the Steelers are hurting is the interior offensive line. Therefore Chuks will be on the sidelines yet again.

TE Zach Gentry- it appears the Steelers are going with only two tight ends most of the time this season. There’s no reason to think otherwise for week 12.


LB Robert Spillane or Tuzar Skipper- with Olasunkanmi Adeniyi ready to play on Sunday, the Steelers have 10 linebackers available on the active roster. While they could carry five at one position, it’s very unlikely they carry that many at both. Therefore Spillane or Skipper may be the guy left out.

RB Kerrith Whyte Jr.- the Steelers also have five running backs on the active roster. Although James Conner is out this week, will the steelers carry four? Whyte probably has more of a chance to see the field as a returner than he does getting carries out of the backfield.


CB Justin Layne- with Artie burns most likely not playing, Layne will fill in the spot for depth at corner.

Projected Inactive List:

  1. James Conner
  2. JuJu Smith-Scuster
  3. Artie Burns
  4. Paxton Lynch
  5. Zach Gentry
  6. Chuks Okorafor
  7. Tuzar Skipper

I feel this list is pretty certain through the top six. When it came to the seventh position, I decided to go with my head instead of my heart. As much as I’d like to see Skipper return to the field with the Steelers after re-joining the squad, the fact that he needs to get reacquainted with thins makes me think he may not get a helmet. This is one where I hope I’m wrong, but I’ve got to go with what makes sense.

As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.