The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their first playoff game since the 2017 season. Facing a familiar opponent in the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers are as healthy as one could expect going into the playoffs. Getting two players back from the Reserve/Injured List and no players carrying an injury status, the only Steelers who aren’t available are ones lost for the season due to injury or on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.
There are new rules in the 2020 season 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. If the Steelers elevate any players from their practice squad, their inactive list would increase by the same number of players. With Kevin Rader being elevated from the practice squad, the Steelers will have 6 players inactive.
Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers Wild Card game:
OL Danny Isidora- With Matt Feiler coming back onto the 53-man roster, the Steelers are carrying an extra lineman. I don’t see any way Isidora gets a helmet over either Feiler or Dotson on the guard depth chart.
RB Anthony McFarland- Although he played the 2nd most offensive snaps of any running back last week, McFarland doesn’t offer anything on special teams. Therefore if they are only going to dress three, he’s the one that offers the least.
S Antoine Brooks Jr.- With the Steelers having so many players available in the secondary, having the extra person has been a luxury. With no players out due to injury at any position, the luxury is gone and Brooks takes a seat.
QB Josh Dobbs- After being a part of a run package in Week 17, it’s not as automatic for Dobbs to be inactive this week. The problem is having a spot available.
DT Isaiah Buggs- Who knows why Buggs and Davis got into it on the sideline last week, but one or both of them is not getting a helmet with the return of Cam Hayward.
DT Carlos Davis- Much like with Buggs, at least one defensive lineman will be on the list. The only question is if it’s one or both.
OLB Jayron Elliott- The Steelers actually get back two outside linebackers this week in Watt and Marsh, so one will be sitting out for sure. Elliott could be the guy.
OLB Cassius Marsh- After playing strong on special teams when given the option, Marsh missed Week 17 due to being a close contact with Joe Haden. Does he get his spot back, or do the Steelers hold the questionable decision against him?
QB Mason Rudolph- Although some may call for Dobbs to get the helmet over Rudolph, it’s just not going to happen. If something happens to Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph is the player who will enter the game. Dobbs only chance to get the helmet is if they decide to dress an extra quarterback.
TE Kevin Rader- You don’t bring a guy up from the practice squad and pay him the extra money just to make him inactive unless you were doing it because of a game-time decision with another player. That’s not the case here.
Projected Inactive List:
- Danny Isisdora
- Anthony McFarland Jr.
- Antoine Brooks Jr.
- Josh Dobbs
- Isaiah Buggs
- Jayrone Elliott
I know some of these choices will be unpopular, but it’s the list I believe the Steelers will use. McFarland just doesn’t offer anything more than a running back in an offense that struggles to run the ball. Brooks just doesn’t give what other players could in a deep position group. And as much as it was fun to see the packages with Dobbs, did we really think the Steelers would want to take Ben Roethlisberger off the field?
As for the final two players on the list, I just picked one of the two at each position who I could see being the choice. If the Steelers really wanted to give Josh Dobbs a helmet, they could have both defensive lineman inactive.
As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.