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Predicting the Steelers’ inactive list and roster moves for Sunday vs. the Chiefs

The Steelers only have 48 players on the roster, but they still need two more offensive lineman.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are spending their Christmas traveling to Kansas City as they prepare to take on the Chiefs on Sunday. With five players who would otherwise be on the 53-man roster currently on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, the Steelers have the chance to use COVID replacements to add to the 48 players currently on the roster if they so choose. With three players already ruled out for Sunday, the Steelers currently only have six of the needed eight offensive linemen available. There will be roster moves coming on Saturday, but the bigger question is who the Steelers add.

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

LB Buddy Johnson (foot)
DT Chris Wormley (groin)
TE Pat Freiermuth (concussion)

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


LB Buddy Johnson- Once again, Buddy Johnson being ruled out on a Friday came as quite a surprise. Last week it was because his injury popped up at the last minute. This week, it’s because he was a full participant for two days to then be limited on Friday and ruled out. With Devin Bush and Marcus Allen on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, it would have been a nice opportunity for Johnson to get playing time.

DT Chris Wormley- Starting all but one game for the Steelers this season, Wormley will miss his first action of the year with a groin injury.

TE Pat Freiermuth- Being it was his second concussion in recent weeks, Pat Freiermuth did not practice and could not clear the NFL concussion protocol. As nice as it ould be to have him in the lineup, his long-term health is of more concern.

Most Likely:

QB Dwayne Haskins- With the Steelers having another quarterback active who doesn’t play any snaps, there’s definitely no reason to have two so Haskins should be in street clothes again.


None- With so many of the other names that are normally here being on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, the Steelers don’t really need to have any more inactive than what they have in their three injured players and third-string quarterback.


Everybody else- I stated above, every other player should be in uniform as the Steelers will need to call up several players in order to fill out the roster.

Projected Inactive List:

  1. Buddy Johnson
  2. Chris Wormley
  3. Pat Freiermuth
  4. Dwayne Haskins

I’m going with four players because the Steelers don’t need to add more just to have them inactive. The three players ruled out due to injury are obvious, and there’s no reason to dress Haskins. Therefore, what it really comes down to is what moves the Steelers will make on Saturday.

So these are the moves I think the Steelers will make…

First, they will add two offensive linemen. My most certain bet is J.C. Hassenauer will get moved to the active roster from being designated to return from IR. The only question is if the Steelers go ahead and activate Kevin Dotson, or if they use a player from the practice squad as a Covid replacement instead.

I also believe that the Steelers should go ahead and have another tight end available with only Zach Gentry and Kevin Rader. The only candidate on the practice squad is Jace Sternberger, so I assume he’s going to be a Covid replacement.

If the Steelers are going to have four players inactive, they would still need one more player. While it would be in their best interest to have another inside linebacker since they only have three, they don’t have one on the practice squad. So unless somebody comes back off the Covid list, I think the Steelers will elevate an outside linebacker to have more depth there in case they need one of those players to fill-in inside in a worst-case scenario.

Of course, any player who comes off the Reserve/COVID-19 List will affect everything, but I’m not banking on anyone at this time.

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