The Pittsburgh Steelers are finishing up their 2021 preseason with their typical finale against the Carolina Panthers in Week 3 of the NFL preseason Friday night at 7:30 PM. While almost everybody was available last Saturday for the Steelers third game, there looks to be a large numbers of players who will sit this one out and instead get ready for the regular season.
While head coach Mike Tomlin only specifically mentioned three players by name who will not be playing on Friday, there are several more who are assumed to not take the field. The following list is players who I project will not appear in the game. They are broken into categories such as definites (mentioned by name), highly likely (ones Coach Tomlin did not name, but implied), limited in practice (players who may not have enough time in to be prepared to play), and why bother (players who the coaches feel they may not need to see any time).
Here are the possibilities of who won’t see the field in Carolina on Friday night:
QB Ben Roethlisberger- The streak continues as Roethlisberger has not appeared in more than one preseason game since 2015.
RB Najee Harris- Coach Tomlin said early on that Harris would playing all the preseason games, but has now changed his mind as he will sit this one out.
QB Mason Rudolph- Some look at this as Rudolph being locked in at QB2 while others believe it’s that the Steelers know what they already have in him. Either way, he’s not playing.
DT Cameron Heyward- If there’s any player on the defense that’s not going to play who is completely healthy, Heyward would be the guy.
CB Joe Haden- And after Heyward, Joe Haden would be next in line.
S Minkah Fitzpatrick- The Steelers know what they have in their All-Pro safety. There’s no reason to risk injury at this point as he was a player who sat the first two games as well.
DT Tyson Alualu- When you’ve been in the NFL as long as Alualu, you get grouped in with the guys that don’t need to play when it’s not necessary.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster- With more than 40 snaps in the last game, the Steelers have seen all they needed to out of Smith-Schuster this preseason.
Limited in Practice:
OLB T.J. Watt- The question isn’t whether or not he plays, the question is how soon does a new deal get announced.
DE Stephon Tuitt- Steelers’ Nation is behind Stephon Tuitt 100% with all he’s been through. I think September 12 has always been the goal for him to be ready.
DB Arthur Maulet- There aren’t nearly as many updates now that training camp is over and the Steelers don’t have to give an injury report. But I don’t know that Maulet has practiced enough (or at all) to a point where he can play in this game after leaving last Saturday night with an injury.
Why take the risk:
WR Chase Claypool- Do we even know if his ankle is ready to go for this week? It doesn’t matter. All that matters is September 12.
WR Diontae Johnson- The Steelers have plenty of young bodies who can play the entire game at wide receiver. Johnson would be fine on the sidelines for the game.
TE Eric Ebron- After showing his run blocking is much improved, the biggest thing with Ebron is keeping down the snaps this season. Don’t waste them in the final preseason game.
OLB Melvin Ingram III- After a nice performance last week, Ingram has earned the night off as the Steelers have a good indication of what they have in him.
S Terrell Edmunds- After being injured early in camp, Edmunds came back and had a nice game against the Lions. He can get in regular season mentality now.
Left off for a reason:
OLB Alex Highsmith- I would be fine if Highsmith doesn’t dress for this game. The only reason I’m hesitant to think that he might play is because he’s going back to Charlotte and might get a series if he has a lot of friends and family in attendance. Then again, maybe that won’t matter.
The Entire Offensive Line- The starting group has 12 snaps together in game this preseason. They need more. And I’m not talking Moore (that’s an entirely different subject). Every player should be available for this one.
ILB Joe Schobert & Devin Bush- With limited time under his belt after the trade, Joe Schobert could use some more work. If he does, it would make sense to get him some playing time alongside Devin Bush. Maybe both players are in street clothes, but I’d like to see them get a few snaps.
So there is a list of players I think will not be playing the Steelers Week 3 preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. How did I do? Is there are anyone on the list you think will play? Are there other players I’m missing? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.