The Pittsburgh Steelers are nearly as healthy as can be expected coming out of their bye week as they are set to fave the Cleveland Browns. With one player ruled out Friday and another downgraded from doubtful to out on Saturday, the Steelers could very well elevate two players ahead of Week 8 to cover the losses.
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 in case a player is called up.
TE Eric Ebron (hamstring)
OLB Melvin Ingram III (groin) (UPDATE: Downgraded to OUT on Saturday)
Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Browns on Sunday:
TE Eric Ebron- Showing up on the injury report as limited on Thursday, Ebron‘s injury likely happened in practice as he did not participate Friday and was ruled out for Sunday’s game.
OLB Melvin Ingram III- I cannot remember the last time Steelers had a player listed as doubtful and they played in the game. Whether it be injury, possible trade, or a combination of both, I expected Ingram to be downgraded to out on Saturday, which he was.
QB Dwayne Haskins- The Steelers are coming out of their bye with the same quarterback depth chart they have had all season. For this reason, Haskins will not suit up yet again.
LB Buddy Johnson- Although they could switch out another linebacker in favor of the rookie coming out of the by week, I’m not going to believe it until I see it.
CB Ahkello Witherspoon- Many Steelers fans are disappointed with the Steelers trade for Witherspoon as he has been inactive for all but one game. With all other defensive backs healthy, it doesn’t look good again this week for Witherspoon.
OT Joe Haeg- Unless they have no other way to go, I don’t see the Steelers dressing four offensive tackles. If Zach Banner is going to get playing time, or even possibly the start, Haeg appears to be the lowest guy on the chart.
OT Zach Banner- Although he was placed on the 53-man roster before the Steelers’ Week 6 game, they still had Banner inactive. For this reason, he has to at least be mentioned as a possibility again this week.
OT Chuks Okorafor or Dan Moore Jr.- I grouped these two players together as it would be very hard to have somebody start at tackle before the bye and be a healthy scratch coming out of it. But throwing Zach Banner into the mix, the direction the Steelers go at tackle could be something more surprising than what fans expect.
RB Kalen Ballage- It’s surprising the Steelers have four running backs and a fullback on the 53-man roster. If looking at the division of labor, specifically with special-teams, Ballage may be the bottom guy and without a helmet on Sunday.
RB Anthony McFarland Jr.- When Zach Banner came off of IR, he was still inactive his first game. It’s a possibility that Steelers could do the same with McFarland.
RB Benny Snell Jr.- Not receiving any rushing attempts in Week 6, it could be Snell that the Steelers have on the sidelines.
A different cornerback- Could Ahkello Witherspoon eventually knock off somebody like Justin Layne and get a helmet? It’s possible, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Projected Inactive List:
- Eric Ebron
- Melvin Ingram III
- Dwayne Haskins
- Buddy Johnson
- Ahkello Witherspoon
- Joe Haeg*
- Kalen Ballage*
I listed the top five players who I believe will be inactive as well as two more as I see an OLB and a TE being elevated from the practice squad. Therefore, I believe the Steelers will need seven players on the list for Sunday.
Unsurprisingly, Melvin Ingram was downgraded from a doubtful status to OUT, which was pretty much the same either way as the Steelers don’t list a player as doubtful and then have them dress. Until Johnson or Witherspoon show they’re going to get a helmet when everyone is healthy, I’m assuming they are locks for the list. With Haskins grabbing his normal role, the two players I see not getting the helmet if they elevate two practice squad players are Joe Haeg and Kalen Ballage. But the Steelers really could go in any number of directions.
As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.