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Predicting the Steelers’ inactive list for Week 11 vs. the Chargers

The Steelers currently have more players ruled out than spots needed to be filled on the inactive list.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a high number of players ruled out for the game along with two unknowns currently on the Reserve/COVID-19 List. With four player ruled out Friday and only 51 players on the active roster, the Steelers currently have more players who will appear on the list than spots which need to be filled. Whether it be Minkah Fitzpatrick or Ben Roethlisberger coming off the Covid list, players added to the active roster, or additional practice squad elevations, the Steelers roster will definitely look different come 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 (not sign them to the active roster), their inactive list would increase by the same number of players. With moves definitely coming on Saturday, we’ll look at the possibilities of how things could play out.


Game Status

Out:
G Kevin Dotson (ankle)
OLB T.J. Watt (knee/hip)
CB Joe Haden (foot)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk (groin)


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

Definitely:

G Kevin Dotson- High ankle sprains are not something to full around with. If it weren’t for the Steelers not needing the roster spot at this time, I would have thought Dotson could have even ended up on IR.

OLB T.J. Watt- When T.J. Watt emerged from the blue medical tent last Sunday, I didn’t think he would be missing this game. But I’m also grateful that it wasn’t a bigger issue which would cost him more time.

CB Joe Haden- Foot injuries for cornerbacks can be a big issue. Although it seemed like Haden‘s injury wasn’t as bad as it couldhave been, he still is out for Week 11.

DT Isaiahh Loudermilk- It was the infamous scenario where a player shows up on the injury report during the week in a limited fashion with a new injury. It appears as if Loudermilk suffered his injury in practice on Thursday and is now the latest Steelers player dealing with a groin.

Most Likely:

None- Because there are so many scenarios that can play out with Ben Roethlisberger and Minkah Fitzpatrick in regards to the Reserve/COVID-19 List, there’s not any one player who is extremely likely to end up on the list simply on their own.

Possibly:

QB Dwayne Haskins- It all comes down to Ben Roethlisberger. If he’s back to play, Haskins will be inactive. If he’s not, Haskins gets a helmet again.

UPDATE: With Ben Roethlisberger coming of the Reserve/COVID-19 List, Haskins now bumps up to the “Most Likely” category.

LB Buddy Johnson- Depending on who the Steelers need to bring up from the practice squad for a given position, Johnson is probably the first healthy scratch on the list if it needs to get to that point.

RB Anthony McFarland Jr.- After being inactive the last two weeks, the Steelers are only going to dress four running backs if they already have their inactive list filled out with players who are already injured or are at positions they do not need. If another player needs to go on the list, McFarland would be a good candidate.

Unlikely:

CB Ahkello Witherspoon- With Joe Haden out, Witherspoon is in line to get a helmet for only the second time this season. It’s unlikely the Steelers decide to go with one less member of the secondary or to promote another corner just for Witherspoon to stand on the sidelines.

OT Zach Banner- Although it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Zach Banner goes back on the inactive list, it would likely only be if the Steelers call up a guard. Otherwise, all the Steelers linemen will be active.

QB Ben Roethlisberger & S Minkah Fitzpatrick- Neither of these names should appear on the inactive list. They will either still be on the Covid List and therefore not be on the roster, or they will come off the list and there’s no reason for them to not be on the field.


Projected Inactive List:

  1. Kevin Dotson
  2. T.J. Watt
  3. Joe Haden
  4. Isaiahh Loudermilk
  5. Dwayne Haskins*
  6. Buddy Johnson*
  7. Anthony McFarland*

As the roster sits right now, and Steelers would only need three players on the inactive list as they only have 51 players on the active roster. If the Steelers fill up their 53-man roster, there would be five names on the list. If the Steelers also use one or two practice squad elevations (meaning called up for just the week, and not as Covid replacements), there would be six or seven players on the list.

The first four names are obvious. If Ben Roethlisberger comes off the Covid List, then Dwayne Haskins is the fifth name assuming the Steelers also fill the other roster spot (UPDATE: Roethlisberger taken off the Covid List). The other roster spot could be used if Minkah Fitzpatrick is ready to go, or it could be for somebody such as Carlos Davis coming off of the IR. Additionally, there could be a practice squad player as a Covid replacement for that 53rd spot. When it all comes down to it, one of the spots will likely be either Minkah Fitzpatrick or Karl Joseph. Additionally, I could see the Steelers needing another edge rusher and defensive lineman from the practice squad. If they do all of those things and end up with 55 players, then the above list of seven makes sense. If Ben Roethlisberger is not one of the players, I assume the most players we would see on the roster by the end of Saturday would be 54 as anybody else would possibly not be active on game day and there is no need to waste an elevation.

This entire situation is very much in flux, so it appears to be quite a wild ride until it is all said and done by 4 PM on Saturday when players need to come off the Reserve/COVID-19 List or be standard practice squad elevations. So stay tuned...

UPDATE: With the Steelers making their moves to sure up their roster on Saturday, they now sit with 54 players on the active roster after adding three from the practice squad (one Covid replacement and two standard call ups) and placing Kevin Dotson on IR.

The projected inactive list, which will be six players, now looks like this:

  1. T.J. Watt
  2. Joe Haden
  3. Isaiahh Loudermilk
  4. Dwayne Haskins
  5. Buddy Johnson
  6. Anthony McFarland

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