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Predicting the Steelers’ Week 17 inactive list vs. the Browns

It’s the scenario many fans hoped for where the Steelers are resting players for a playoff run.

Indianapolis Colts v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are resting players in Week 17 as they look to make up for essentially having no bye week before they head into the 2020 NFL postseason. With only 5 inactive spots with a 53-man roster, I fully expect the Steelers to elevate two players from the practice squad prior to the game in order to have as many players inactive as they can afford.

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.

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:
K Chris Boswell (groin)
S Terrell Edmunds (shoulder)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (rest)


Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for Week 17:

Definitely:

K Chris Boswell- It’s not a good sign seeing Boswell missing this game due to injury. But if there was any chance of an injury continuing to linger, it’s best to get (W)right before the postseason.

S Terrell Edmunds- It will be the first game missed in his NFL career for Terrell Edmunds. With no report of an injury following the game last week, hopefully this is more precautionary than anything else.

QB Ben Roethlisberger- It finally happened. I didn’t get to list Josh Dobbs, and for all the right reasons.

Most Likely:

OLB T.J. Watt- Although it wasn’t officially announced by the team, it was reported Watt was not playing in the game this week. The fact he did not practice at all backs up this report.

C Maurkice Pouncey- Everything said about Watt can also be said about Pouncey.

DT Cameron Heyward- It was strange to see Hayward come back to practice on Thursday when it was reported he’s not playing this week. But by being held out again Friday it looks like Heyward will stick to the sidelines.

Possibly:

G David DeCastro- It also wouldn’t be surprising to see DeCastro take the game off even though he did practice the final two days of the week. The biggest indication would be if the Steelers elevate two offensive linemen from the practice squad.

DT Stephon Tuitt- Another position where the Steelers have an extra player is along the defensive line. Missing practice recently with a back injury, Tuitt will most likely be limited if he even dresses at all.

DT Tyson Alualu- Strictly from an age standpoint, Alualu is a candidate to see reduced playing time. Whether or not it would be to a point where he’s inactive is a bigger question.

RB James Conner- The Steelers have been having a running back inactive in recent weeks. Giving Conner the day off is a possibility if there’s nobody else they want to sit.

Unlikely:

OT Alejandro Villanueva- As much as the Steelers would probably like to get some rest for the aging Villanueva, they simply don’t have enough offensive linemen if Pouncey and even DeCastro don’t play.

CB Joe Haden- A prime candidate to be inactive just hours ago, it appears Haden is heading to the Reserve/COVID-19 List.


Projected Inactive List:

  1. Ben Roethlisberger
  2. Chris Boswell
  3. Terrell Edmunds
  4. T.J. Watt
  5. Maurkice Pouncey
  6. Cam Heyward*
  7. David DeCastro*

This is a much different inactive list than usual, and it’s great to finally be able to predict one like this where it’s about which players are being rested. Unfortunately, everything changed on Saturday afternoon with the report of Joe Haden testing positive for Covid. With rest being the primary factor in the inactive list, now it may come down to contact tracing and if the Steelers will be short at any given position.

I listed seven players because I feel the Steelers will elevate two people from the practice squad. If Pouncey is not playing, they have to elevate one lineman. I think there’s a possibility DeCastro sits as well if they bring up to offensive lineman. Where I once believed it could be Joe Haden who sits down without dressing for the game, that option appears to be off the table.

UPDATE: The Steelers have confirmed 6 of these inactives as they announced the will not even travel. The only factor remaining is the number of players elevated from the practice squad. This per Burt Lauten on the Steelers PR Department:

UPDATE: After the Steelers have made their roster moves, they will have 6 inactives on Sunday. With 6 players not traveling, the inactive list is set.

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