The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their first game of the 2021 NFL season. As the season rolls on, the true nature of the depth chart will come a little more into focus. But for Week 1, trying to predict who the Steelers will have on their inactive list at 11:30 AM Sunday is much more difficult than it will be in the coming weeks. Regardless, I’m still going to give it a shot.
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 adjust the projection if necessary.
OLB Alex Highsmith (groin) (Removed on Saturday)
Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Bills on Sunday:
None (No players have been ruled out)
QB Dwayne Haskins- The Steelers typically don’t dress three quarterbacks, and Haskins is listed as third on the depth chart.
G B.J. Finney- One of the offensive linemen likely won’t get a helmet, so chances are it’s one of the two guards. Finney has a 50-50 shot.
G Rashaad Coward- With B.J. Finney having past experience at center, his versatility might give him the edge over Coward to earn a helmet.
DT Isaiah Buggs- The Steelers have the option of only going with five defensive linemen for the game. If so, Buggs was the odd man out at the end of 2020.
DT Carlos Davis- Even though the Steelers are now down to six defense of lineman, any of those that aren’t the starter are a possibility. So it could be Davis.
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk- Rounding out the D-line, it could be the rookie who is simply holding a roster spot but doesn’t get a helmet for Sunday.
LB- Ulysees Gilbert III- The Steelers have six inside linebackers on the roster. They are not all going to dress. Gilbert is a likely candidate to be the odd man out.
LB Buddy Johnson- There was a little doubt Buddy Johnson was going to make the 53-man roster. Whether or not he gets a helmet on game day is a whole other question.
CB Arthur Maulet- With the Steelers having six cornerbacks currently on the roster, there’s a chance one will not get a helmet. Maulet was so far down the depth chart he wasn’t even originally listed anywhere.
CB Ahkello Witherspoon- A big question will be if Witherspoon is up to speed enough to get a helmet for Week 1. It’s really anybody’s guess at this point.
OLB Alex Highsmith- Since his injury status was dropped on Saturday, Highsmith will be dressed and ready against the Bills.
OT Joe Haeg- There’s going to be one lineman not dressing, but going into this game with only two tackles would be foolish.
C J.C. Hassenauer- Everything that was said about tackle, it is also true at center as the Steelers need to have a reserve available behind Kendrick Green.
CB Justin Layne- Although he may not see much action on defense, Layne will continue to be a special teams player and is likely still ahead of the other two cornerbacks listed above.
OLB Jamir Jones- Even though Highsmith is now good to go, I don’t think the Steelers are going to go with only three outside linebackers unless they were forced to do so, therefore Jones should be in uniform Sunday.
Projected Inactive List:
- Dwayne Haskins
- Rashaad Coward
- Isaiah Buggs
- Buddy Johnson
- Arthur Maulet
Most of this list is really a shot in the dark. Haskins is a slam dunk and I’m fairly confident in Coward mainly because of position flexibility. I wouldn’t be shocked if all the defensive linemen dress and the Steelers sit two inside linebackers and UG3 takes the place of Buggs. Also, I have no idea if Witherspoon is ready or if he’s in the Steelers plans yet. For all we know, Maulet may be the starting slot corner and be on the field for the first snap. But I had to go with something, so this is it.
It should be noted this list doesn’t include the possibility of any player being promoted from the practice squad. If the Steelers promote a player like Karl Joseph, or even make a roster move on Saturday, everything changes.
As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.