The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into their final two games of the 2021 NFL regular season with a very narrow hope for a postseason birth. First and foremost, they must take care of business Monday night at Heinz field against the Cleveland Browns. With six players still on the Reserve/COVID-19 List and Kevin Dotson yet to be activated from IR, the Steelers are likely to have some roster moves ahead of their game.
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 Monday afternoon, we’ll look at the possibilities of how things could play out.
LB Buddy Johnson (foot)
C Kendrick Green (calf)
P Pressley Harvin III (personal/illness)
Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Browns on Monday:
LB Buddy Johnson- The last two weeks would have been a great opportunity for the Steelers rookie to get some playing time, but an injured foot has kept him out both times.
QB Dwayne Haskins- Another week, another Haskins inactive status. Only one time this season was he in uniform and hopefully it stays that way the final two games.
C Kendrick Green- He’s listed as questionable with a calf injury, so there’s a possibility Green will not play. Chances are he’s not going to start, the only question is if he’s in uniform in an emergency capacity.
P Pressley Harvin III- He didn’t practice all week as he was tending to his family with the passing of his father, and Friday he was added to the injury report with an illness. There’s a good chance the Steelers might just give their punter another week off until he can practice.
P Corliss Waitman- If Big Press can’t go, then there is no reason to have two punters active and Waitman would not be called upon.
LB Tegray Scales- The Steelers added Scales to the roster this week in order to have enough players at inside linebacker. If the Steelers get one back off of the Covid List before the game, then Scales would not be needed.
Players coming off of the Reserve/COVID-19 List- There is a possibility that any one of the six players currently on the Reserve/COVID-19 List could come off the list before the game but ultimately not dress. Players such Zach Banner or Anthony McFarland Jr. who have already missed a game while being on the Covid List would be ones who may be eligible but yet not dress.
G Kevin Dotson- If the Steelers bring Dotson off of the designated to return injury list, there would be no reason to activate him and not dress him.
TE Kevin Rader- If the Steelers have more players come off the Covid List than they have room for on the roster, they may have to cut a player who would otherwise be inactive. If that’s the case, somebody like Rader could possibly be added to the inactive list but it would take more players returning than expected.
DT Isaiah Buggs- If for some unexpected reason Chris Wormley is able to clear the Covid protocol extremely quickly in order to be eligible to play on Monday, it would be a player such as Buggs who would then go to the inactive list. But I’m not banking on a Wormley return this week.
Projected Inactive List:
- Buddy Johnson
- Dwayne Haskins
- Pressley Harvin III
- Kendrick Green*
- Tergay Scales*
With 50 players on the roster at the time of this writing, the Steelers would need to have three players inactive and will have to add an offensive linemen of some sort. The other two players on the list I have are based on if players return from the Reserve/COVID-19 List before the game.
So these are the moves I think the Steelers will make…
First of all, I believe Kevin Dotson comes off of Injured Reserve to not only play, but start for the Steelers this week. If Kendrick Green is able to go, then the Steelers have eight offensive linemen. If not, the Steelers need to either activate Zach Banner, who has spent 12 days on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, or they will need to elevate a practice squad lineman. I think it is just as likely that Green is active but does not start.
I included Tegray Scales on this list as well because the Steelers could possibly get back Devin Bush at inside linebacker, who has been on the Reserve/COVID-19 List for 11 days. If Bush does return, I see Scales, basically signed in case of emergency, as not getting a helmet.
If Anthony McFarland Jr. comes off the Reserve/COVID-19 List, I see him going right back to his spot on the inactive list.
If more than two players come off the Reserve/COVID-19 list for the Steelers ahead of the game, assuming Kevin Dotson is activated off IR, they are going to have to make corresponding roster moves. Whether it be Buddy Johnson to IR or releasing a player, it’s so up in the air and not as likely to happen that it is almost impossible to predict. Therefore, I’m mentioning the possibility but not going more in depth as the possibilities are extensive.
As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.