The Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with multiple injuries again this week, but to a mostly different group than a week ago. Even though the Steelers already have three players ruled out for Sunday’s game, it is only one starter unlike last week when they had three, including two at the same position. With the Steelers not having enough healthy offensive linemen to have 48 players active (they must have eight), look for a move later on Saturday with an elevation off of the practice squad or bringing Zach Banner off of the Reserve/Injured List..
The rules in the 2021 season when it comes to the players active on game day have been carried over from last season. 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. Until the Steelers announce an elevation, we will assume it is only five players but will also add more choices as one or two players being called up is likely.
OT Chuks Okorafor (concussion)
G Rashaad Coward (ankle)
DT Carlos Davis (knee)
WR Chase Claypool (hamstring) (UPDATE: Downgraded to OUT on Saturday)
Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Packers on Sunday:
OT Chuks Okorafor- After leaving last week’s game with a concussion, there was a little hope for Okorafor to clear the protocol for this week when he wasn’t able to practice on Wednesday or Thursday. As for who plays right tackle, it will either be the return of Zach Banner from IR or Joe Haeg filling in with another tackle elevated from the practice squad.
G Rashaad Coward- Inactive the first three weeks of the 2021 season, the fact that Coward is injured only makes him a definite rather than most likely.
DT Carlos Davis- Hindsight is 20/20 as with Davis missing three weeks in a row he could have easily been placed on the Reserve/Injured List had the Steelers realized his injury would continue to linger.
QB Dwayne Haskins- He almost had a shot last week with Roethlisberger being limited on Thursday for practice, but Big Ben was a go both of his normal practices this week and Haskins will once again be in street clothes.
CB Ahkello Witherspoon- Bumping up a category to likely be inactive, I think Witherspoon will continue to be the odd man out at least through the bye week. As soon as I say this, he’ll probably get a helmet this week.
WR Chase Claypool- Not only is Claypool questionable for the game, fact that he went in the wrong progression after dealing with a hamstring injury on Thursday does not look good for the second year player. Look for the Steelers to make a statement about Claypool on Saturday, even if it’s indirectly by elevating a wide receiver from the practice squad for the second-straight week. (UPDATE: Downgraded to OUT on Saturday)
LB Buddy Johnson- Last week the Steelers had the opportunity to dress all six inside linebackers. This week, they’ll probably need to have one on the sidelines. Having the least experience, Johnson would be likely the first choice.
LB Marcus Allen/Ulysees Gilbert- It would be foolish to think that Buddy Johnson has to be the inside linebacker who doesn’t get a helmet on Sunday. Either Marcus Allen or Ulysees Gilbert could end up being on the sidelines in his place.
CB Arthur Maulet- I initially thought the final helmet for the cornerback position was between Maulet and Witherspoon. After seeing who the Steelers chose last week, and Maulet playing well, I don’t see him not being part of the game plan on Sunday.
Projected Inactive List:
- Chuks Okorafor
- Rashaad Coward
- Carlos Davis
- Dwayne Haskins
- Ahkello Whiterspoon
- Buddy Johnson*
- Chase Claypool*
I first have to explain that the Steelers have to make a move on Saturday. One way or the other, they have to add an offensive lineman in order to have 48 players dress. If Zach Banner is ready to play, I think that would be the first choice to add him to the 53-man roster which means one of the players listed above will either be released or put on the Reserve/Injured List. If that happens, my predictions all shift up to fill in for the player no longer on the roster. If Banner is not ready to go, I suspect Chaz Green gets a call from the practice squad which puts Buddy Johnson on the inactive list.
The Steelers will have the opportunity to elevate another player, and it all comes down to the wide receiver. If Chase Claypool isn’t going to be able to go, Steelers will likely elevate Cody White or one of the other players. This is why Claypool is on the list at the very bottom. If the Steelers have to have this many players inactive due to an elevation, it will be because of someone to take the place of Claypool. No elevation, and I believe Claypool is active. My ultimate call is Claypool has to sit this one out.
As for the other choices, they are pretty cut and dry. Witherspoon is still a wild card but being inactive last week makes me believe he will be again.
UPDATE: With Chase Claypool downgraded to out, my original prediction still holds true. I believe the seven players listed above will be those inactive for the Steelers and they will elevate two players (a tackle and a wide receiver) from the practice squad. The other possibility is the return of Zach Banner to the 53-man roster this week. If so, it will likely be one practice squad elevation for a wide receiver and one of the players on my projected inactives would no longer be on the roster to make room for Banner.
As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.