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Predicting the Steelers’ inactive list for Week 5 vs. the Broncos

Most of the work has been done with four players ruled out, but the big question of roster moves throws a wrench in everything.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with multiple injuries again this week, but this time they are “all or nothing.” The Steelers already have four players ruled out for Sunday’s game, but no other players carry an injury status. Hopefully this means we will go a week without having a player downgraded on Saturday which has become too common recently. With the possibility of bringing Zach Banner or Anthony McFarland off of the Reserve/Injured List, as well as the possibility of signing or elevating a wide receiver, there are still a lot of roster questions to be answered between now and Sunday.

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.

Game Status

CB Cameron Sutton (groin)
WR James Washington (groin)
G Rashaad Coward (ankle)
DT Carlos Davis (knee)

Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Broncos on Sunday:


CB Cameron Sutton- I think Sutton will be the player who is missed the most from those out for Sunday. We will see how the Steelers secondary does with others filling in.

WR James Washington- It seems like the wide receivers are all taking turns missing a game due to injury. At least there haven’t been multiple players in the same week. It must be Washington‘s turn this time.

G Rashaad Coward- For now, he is on the injury report as being out. I would not be surprised if Coward lands on IR if Zach Banner returns.

DT Carlos Davis- I bet Steelers wish they would have put Davis on IR now that he’s missed four-straight games.

Most Likely:

QB Dwayne Haskins- If nothing on the Steelers roster changes between now and game time, Haskins will be the only non-injured player inactive.


LB Buddy Johnson- If the Steelers need another player to go on the list, I believe Johnson will be the next man after Haskins. The Steelers simply don’t have to dress six inside linebackers.

Any Offensive Tackle- This is if Zach Banner is put back on the roster and the other three tackles retain their spots. Carrying four players at tackle would be a huge luxury, but the Steelers could do it if they don’t have to add another one to the inactive list. If so, it’s going to be one of the other three and I have no idea which one it would be as they have all started at least one game in the last two weeks.


CB Ahkello Witherspoon- Getting a helmet in Week 2 when Joe Haden was out, Witherspoon will get another shot as Sutton‘s absence in the secondary will allow him to have the vacated helmet.

Projected Inactive List:

  1. Cam Sutton
  2. James Washington
  3. Rashaad Coward
  4. Carlos Davis
  5. Dwayne Haskins
  6. Buddy Johnson*

I added Buddy Johnson as I am confident he will be the next name used if one of the names above him are no longer on the active roster or if there is a practice squad elevation. If not, then I think the top five spots are locks.

Where things get tricky is how the Steelers end up making roster moves Saturday afternoon. I believe the most likely move is Zach Banner coming off of IR and either Carlos Davis or Rashaad Cowher going on the IR. It could even be both players and the Steelers could sign Cody White to the active roster. Since he has already been elevated twice this season, he can’t be elevated again and can only play if the Steelers sign him to the active roster. The Steelers wouldn’t necessarily have to put either of those two players on IR to make a move, but it seems the most logical choice at this time.

As for Anthony McFarland, I’m assuming he does not come off the Reserve/Injured List this week. If he does, I think we would see the release of another running back as the Steelers barely use the ones they have and would have no reason to keep an extra one.

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