The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into their 2021 Wild Card matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs healthier than they have been in recent weeks. With no players on the injury report, and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster surprisingly making it back from the Reserve/Injured List, the Steelers are the best shape they have been on the injury front end than they have been for almost the entire season. But will they be able to cash in?
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 no practice squad elevations coming on Saturday, the Steelers will have five players on the inactive list and they will all be healthy scratches.
Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Chiefs on Sunday:
None- No players have been ruled out or are even in question of being inactive due to injury.
QB Dwayne Haskins- It looks as if Haskins will reach 17 inactives for the season after all.
LB Tegray Scales- The Steelers had to keep Scales on the roster one last week since he was poached off of another practice squad. That might be the only reason he’s still on the 53, but it won’t keep him active for the game.
RB Anthony McFarland Jr.- This has been the move almost all season since he has returned from injury. Even if there is concern with Najee Harris getting banged up again, McFarland would be so far down the depth chart he likely wouldn’t help.
DT Carlos Davis- I almost put Davis in the most likely category, but at least gave him more of a shot as the Steelers might feel the need to have more players to help trying to stop the run. But there is a high possibility Davis isn’t in uniform.
TE Kevin Rader- With six wide receivers and all the regular offensive lineman, the Steelers could choose to go with only two tight ends. For this reason, and the fact that they have done it once earlier this season, Rader could be the guy left out.
WR Cody White- Only playing when one of the projected five wide receivers coming into the season was out, Cody White logged 15 games with the Steelers. Since those top five receivers are all available for the first time in the same game since Week 2, White could be without a helmet.
WR James Washington- Although one would think it would be Cody White who would be the last man in at wide receiver, White has played over 100 special team snaps this season where Washington has only played three. If the Steelers deem that to be the more important factor, Washington could be the odd man out.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster- There would be no reason for the Steelers to activate Smith-Schuster to the roster and not dress him for the game. He’s playing. The only question is how many snaps.
Projected Inactive List:
- Dwayne Haskins
- Tergay Scales
- Anthony McFarland Jr.
- Carlos Davis
- Cody White
For me, the top three spots are automatic and the next one is highly likely. I would be surprised if it was somebody other than Davis to go along with McFarland, Scales, and Haskins. It ultimately comes down to the last spot. For me, the last inactive player is Cody White simply because he hasn’t been used on offense hardly at all. Add in the fact he only has played 10 special team snaps in each of the last three games, I don’t think it’s going to be enough to take the helmet from somebody else.
As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.