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Predicting the Steelers’ inactive list for Week 9 vs. the Bears

One player has been ruled out while another is questionable for Monday’s game.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers had an extra day between Week 8 and Week 9 in order to get healthy due to the fact they play on Monday night. With one player ruled out Saturday and another questionable, the Steelers could get through without any practice squad elevations for Week 9 if they so chose.

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 explain how things could change is a player is called up.


Game Status

Out:
TE Eric Ebron (hamstring)

Questionable:
OL B.J. Finney (back)


Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Bears on Monday:

Definitely:

TE Eric Ebron- Despite there being conflicting reports between the Steelers PR Department and Steelers.com as to whether Ebron has a hamstring or ankle injury, he’s out either way for Monday night’s game. With Pat Freiermuth and Zach Gentry holding down the tight end position very well last week, the Steelers may once again pass on the idea of elevating a player from the practice squad.

Most Likely:

QB Dwayne Haskins- I became concerned when Ben Roethlisberger was limited for a second day this week, especially with it being a new injury to his right shoulder. But all is good on the Steelers quarterback front which means Haskins is once again on the sidelines.

LB Buddy Johnson- The only rookie left on the roster who isn’t regularly contributing, Buddy Johnson is just buried on the depth chart this year. Getting a red shirt isn’t the end of the world.

CB Ahkello Witherspoon- Perhaps the day comes this season when Witherspoon is active in place of another corner, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Having somewhat of a coin flip as to whether or not a player works out in a trade is what it is. Isn’t that almost what you would expect from a fifth-round draft pick?

Possibly:

OL B.J. Finney- Showing up on the injury report Thursday with a back injury, Finney did not practice Friday but was limited on Saturday. It’s hard to say what the Steelers do with him on game day.

OT Zach Banner- If Finney is able to go, or if the Steelers elevate a guard from the practice squad, then one of the Steelers tackles will be inactive. Last week it was Banner, so it could very likely be him again…

OT Joe Haeg- …and if it’s not Zach Banner, it would probably have to be Joe Haeg.

RB Kalen Ballage- If the Steelers choose to elevate a third tight end, then the the extra player at running back will likely be inactive. That player very well could be Kalen Ballage…

RB Benny Snell Jr.- …or I could be Benny Snell. Both players played two snaps last game so it’s hard to say who’s ahead of the other.

Unlikely:

RB Anthony McFarland Jr.- The running back I would not expect to be inactive, if the Steelers choose to have one not dress, would be Anthony McFarland as he played more snaps on offense than the other two players combined last week. Now that he’s back, he may grasp the number two role all to himself.


Projected Inactive List:

  1. Eric Ebron
  2. Dwayne Haskins
  3. Buddy Johnson
  4. Ahkello Witherspoon
  5. B.J. Finney

This is the week I don’t know that the Steelers will elevate anyone from the practice squad. Not elevating a tight end last week makes me think they wouldn’t do it this week either unless there’s something new to the game plan. Therefore, I think the five players listed above will be it. The biggest question will be if B.J. Finney is able to dress, or if the Steelers just use that as an opportunity to have an extra tackle since J.C. Hassenauer could also be the back up at guard. Additionally, it’s not that Joe Haeg couldn’t play guard either in a pinch. If it is convenient for the Steelers to have Finney inactive, it will get Zach Banner dressing for the first time and could make for an interesting story going forward as to where the players lie on the depth chart.

If the Steelers were to elevate any practice squad players, it would likely be either a tight end or a guard. If it would be a guard (Malcolm Pridgein), then both Finney and one of the tackles would be inactive. If the Steelers elevate a tight end (Kevin Rader) look for one of the running backs to then end up on the list.

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