NOTE: This article was written before T.J. Watt was officially activated. For fun, the original text will be left but corrected.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to get their 2021 season back on track before it is too late. With
three two players currently on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, the Steelers have not replaced them and only have 50 51 players available for Sunday at this time. With two players already ruled out for Sunday, the numbers look to already have the Steelers almost set with their 48 game-day actives. The only problem is NFL teams need to have eight offensive lineman to have 48 players active, and the Steelers only have seven on the roster. So one of the moves coming on Saturday will involve the offensive line. Another likely position will be outside linebacker, either with the return of T.J. Watt or a promotion from the practice squad.
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.
CB Joe Haden (foot)
DT Isaiah Buggs (ankle)
Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Ravens on Sunday:
CB Joe Haden- I was hopeful Haden would play in Week 12, so seeing him not practice and being ruled out for Week 13 is very disheartening. I even hate to mention the stat that the Steelers have lost their last eight games in which Haden did not appear.
DT Isaiah Buggs- Showing up as limited on Thursday and then not practicing on Friday tells me that Buggs was injured during practice. The fact that he was a surprise scratch last week after being the starter, along with no longer being listed as the starting nose tackle on the depth chart, this was likely where he was going to be whether he was healthy or not.
QB Dwayne Haskins- If the Steelers don’t add a lineman, they still have to have another player inactive. Once again, it will be Haskins.
LB Buddy Johnson- Even with Robert Spillane out and on the Covid list, it doesn’t necessarily mean Buddy Johnson automatically gets a helmet. If the Steelers choose to have a player at another position active then Johnson won’t be called upon, especially with two other linebackers ahead of him on the depth chart that have not seen a defensive snap in 2021.
RB Anthony McFarland Jr.- Last week McFarland was an extra player active for the Steelers. This week, Ray-Ray McCloud is back and they don’t need McFarland to return kickoffs. There’s a chance he doesn’t get a helmet.
TE Kevin Rader- Going with only two tight ends last week, Rader was one of the players on the inactive list. The Steelers can choose to go that route again, but they might not need to if they don’t promote too many players from the practice squad.
DT Montravious Adams- Just joining the Steelers this week, there’s a possibility that they don’t think Adams is ready to go for a game yet. If that is the case, it would likely be a practice squad elevation or the return of Carlos Davis to take his place.
DT Cam Heyward & Isaiahh Loudermilk- While some believe these players are in jeopardy because they missed practice Friday due to illness, the Steelers did not give them an injury status. Therefore, the Steelers believe both Heyward and Loudermilk are playing Sunday and it would take a downgrade on Saturday for it to be otherwise.
Projected Inactive List:
- Joe Haden
- Isaiah Buggs
- Dwayne Haskins
- Buddy Johnson
- Anthony McFarland*
I’m going with my full prediction of exactly what will happen. I believe the Steelers will add an offensive lineman, such as Rashaad Coward, off of their practice squad
and they will get T.J. Watt back off the Reserve/COVID-19 List. This would bring the Steelers roster to 52 players and they would only need four inactives.
I’m going with Buddy Johnson as a coin flip over Anthony McFarland simply because McFarland was active last week when Johnson was not. Even with Robert Spillane out, the Steelers have plenty of inside linebacker depth as long as they have their special teams covered, which Kevin Rader could help out with if he’s active. That’s why I’m then going with Anthony McFarland being out instead of Rader IF the Steelers need another player by filling another spot. If another player added is a defensive lineman, such as Carlos Davis, then I believe it would be Martravious Adams in the inactive spot unless Heyward or Loudermilk get downgraded due to illness.
As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.