It’s the most difficult inactive list to predict all year. Add the fact the Steelers only have one player on the injury report and the players not getting a helmet on Sunday will be filled out with the guys at the bottom of the depth chart. A late roster addition on Saturday added even more speculation as to who will be in and who sits this week out. Which positions will gain favor over others? It is purely speculation heading into the Steelers first week, but once they establish which players are less likely to see the field it will become more clear in future weeks.
S Sean Davis (ankle)
Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for Week 1:
None- this spot is reserved for players who have been ruled out for the game.
S Sean Davis- every player who was listed as doubtful for the Steelers in 2018 was inactive for the game. With that said, Davis misses the opener.
QB Joshua Dobbs- in a role reversal from 2018, it is Dobbs who will be in street clothes and Mason Rudolph who gets to hold the clipboard.
CB Justin Layne- since the Steelers are carrying six corners, it is more than likely one will not be active on game day. Layne appears to need some extra development before he can be called into action in a greater capacity in the NFL
DT Isaiah Buggs- in every game in 2018, the Steelers dressed five defense of lineman. Being the rookie, Buggs will probably be the one to sit out at least early on in the season.
OLB Olasunkanmi Adeniyi- with Tuzar Skipper being released on Sturday, Ola becomes the bottom man on the depth chart. The Steelers only carried three outside linebackers on game day all of 2018, so the biggest question is if they carry four or not.
ILB Ulysees Gilbert III- there just aren’t enough spots to give all the linebackers a helmet. I’m assuming the rookie sits out until the Steelers show me otherwise.
OL Fred Johnson or Zach Banner- The Steelers will not dress nine lineman. The biggest question is which one it will be. Do they carry Banner knowing Matt Feiler could move to guard if multiple players go down, or does Johnson get the helmet?
WR Diontae Johnson- I believed from the beginning Johnson would be brought along slowly his rookie year much like Martavis Bryant. Before Saturday, Johnson was a shoe in to get a helmet. But with six WR’s now on the roster it isn’t a certain as it was before.
TE Zach Gentry- The Steelers dressed all of their tight ends last year when healthy. So while you could assume Gentry will dress for the game, the Steelers may use the spot for an additional linebacker in order to bolster the special teams play.
WR Johnny Holton- does it really make sense to bring a player up from the practice squad the day before a game just to have them inactive? The only way this occurs is if the Steelers were afraid he was going to be signed by another team, otherwise he dresses.
Projected Inactive List:
- Sean Davis
- Joshua Dobbs
- Isaiah Buggs
- Justin Layne
- Fred Johnson
- Ulysees Gilbert III
- Diontae Johnson
The top four on the lists are easy and I would consider them locks. It’s the last three that are up in the air. I think Banner gets the helmet due to his added time with the team in 2018 over the rookie Johnson. I also think Ola is ready to go and the Steelers don’t want to skim at OLB like they did in 2018. I was very tempted to have Johnson active and put Gentry on this list, but I just don’t know that the Steelers would do it based on position. When it comes to a straight-up comparison, I believe Johnson is way ahead of Gentry. But based on the position they play, a third tight end might be needed before a sixth wide receiver. With so many questions, my confidence level for this list is about a five out of ten.
I believe the most telling thing about the inactive list will be the wide receiver position. If the Steelers choose to dress all six at the expense of, most likely, a tight end, it goes to show their plan of attack for this week and possibly for the season when it comes to the passing game.
As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.