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Predicting the Steelers’ Week 15 inactive list vs. Cincinnati

Once again, the Steelers should be adjusting their roster on game day prior to the release of the inactive list.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are set the face off against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. Right not, the Steelers should still be making a move prior to the game because they only have 7 offensive linemen available. With Danny Isidora on the exempt list as he moves through the COVID-19 protocol (which was changed over the weekend, but he is due to come off the list regardless), it could either be him and the team having to release a player, or a practice squad player could be brought up. The exact procedures and deadlines for these moves have changed so much over the course of 2020 it appears the move will be made on game day. The exact nature of the move will determine how many inactives the Steelers will have for Monday.

There are new rules in 2020 when it comes to the players active on game day. As long as a team has eight offensive lineman who will be dressing for the game, they could have 48 players on their active roster rather than the 46 in previous seasons. Since the Steelers elevated one player from their practice squad, their inactive list should be six players.

NOTE: If there is a change to the projected number of inactive players after the release of the projected inactives, it will be updated to reflect the move.


Game Status

Out:
OL Kevin Dotson (shoulder)

Questionable:
RB James Conner (quadricep)


Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for Week 15:

Definitely:

OL Kevin Dotson- It is quite unfortunate Dotson will not be making his third start of the season. I’m not exactly sure what the Steelers are going to do at guard against the Bengals, but Dotson will not be the guy this week.

Most Likely:

QB Josh Dobbs- The biggest question I have doing this list every week is if dobbs will ever not be on it (for good reasons, of course).

TE Kevin Rader- like I’ve said before, if the Steelers need to release a player raider is a prime candidate as it is unlikely he would be claimed by any other NFL team and could go back to the practice squad.

Possibly:

RB James Conner- It it’s difficult to gauge if Connor will play on Monday as there hasn’t been any real reports one way or another. I guess he truly is questionable.

RB Anthony McFarland Jr.- It was surprising to see McFarland inactive last week, but if the Steelers aren’t committing to run the ball there’s really no reason to keep four running backs active. If Connor does play, McFarland may not.

DT Isaiah Buggs- It doesn’t seem like the Steelers are completely convinced in regards to their defensive line depth chart. Each week it’s hard to say who’s going to be the player who doesn’t get a helmet, and last week it was Buggs.

DT Carlos Davis- Davis was active last week but did not see a single snap for the Steelers. Who knows if it will be him getting a helmet or not.

LB Jayrone Elliott- Now that the Steelers have an additional outside linebacker, will they dress all five of them? Elliott has been one who was inactive in the past so he is a candidate.

LB Cassius Marsh- There’s also no way to gauge how the Steelers feel about their newly acquired outside linebacker. Saying he wasn’t on an active roster, who knows if the Steelers will use him on game day or not.

Unlikely:

S Antoine Brooks Jr.- The Steeler sixth-round draft pick has been inactive in the past since he joined the 53-man roster, but there seems to be better candidates this week to be held out.


Projected Inactive List:

  1. Kevin Dotson
  2. Josh Dobbs
  3. Kevin Rader
  4. Isaiah Buggs
  5. Anthony McFarland Jr.

First of all, this list is based on no roster move made on Monday which is extremely unlikely. Chances are, there will either be another name needed to be added to the inactive list or one of these players may no longer be on the team. As for the players selected, I’m hopeful that James Conner will play, but the Steelers could dress an extra running back in case he is limited. But McFarland was inactive last week so I went in that direction. If not, it’s probably Elliott or Marsh. As for the defensive lineman, I’m starting to wonder if the player who gets the helmet wins a game of rock-paper-scissors or something of that nature. So I’m just going with a pure guess.

UPDATE: The Steelers have added Danny Isidora to the active roster and released Kevin Rader as I expected. The Steelers also elevated Tegray Scales from the practice squad. Add in the report of James Conner being downgraded to OUT, here is an updated projected list of inactives:

  1. Kevin Dotson
  2. James Conner
  3. Josh Dobbs
  4. Isaiah Buggs
  5. Carlos Davis
  6. Cassius Marsh

Obviously, Conner replaces McFarland. With the Steelers needing two more players on the list with Kevin Rader being released, I went back to five defensive lineman being active and added one outside linebacker to the list. Whether that linebacker is Marsh or Elliott is anybody’s guess.

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