The Pittsburgh Steelers are at home for back-to-back games for the only time in the 2022 season. As the season rolls on, the true nature of the depth chart has come much more into focus, but injuries are still a driving force when it comes to the inactive list every week. For Week 11, the Steelers have only one player with an injury status and aren’t forced into making any moves on Saturday.
The rules in the 2022 season when it comes to the players active on game day have been carried over from the last two seasons. 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. While nothing stands out from an injury standpoint to where the Steelers would have to use a practice squad elevation, things could still transpire by the 4 PM deadline. Minkah Fitzpatrick’s change in status last week due to an appendectomy is a perfect example of a last-minute change.
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring)
Here are the possibilities to end up inactive for the Steelers against the Bengals on Sunday:
CB Ahkello Witherspoon- I’m still baffled as to why the Steelers haven’t put Witherspoon on the Reserve/Injured List (IR) at any point this season. Since Week 3, Witherspoon has played half of one game. This would be the only move I see the Steelers making before Sunday in order to place him on IR if they are wanting to have him eligible to come back sooner. Otherwise, he’s just inactive again.
QB Mason Rudolph- I’ve completely run out of things to say as to why Mason Rudolph is going to be inactive. Somehow I’ve managed to squeeze 29 words out of it anyway.
G Kendrick Green- It’s great that the Steelers offensive line have played all but five snaps together all season. This means the same player has been inactive every week in Kendrick Green.
LB Mark Robinson- Even with Myles Jack not playing a single snap last week the Steelers chose to have him dressed rather than Robinson. It appears someone has to be ruled out of the game for the rookie to get a helmet.
CB Josh Jackson- I thought Jackson would be inactive last week after the Steelers elevated Elijah Riley off the practice squad. But then the Steelers chose to have Riley inactive. Jackson didn’t see a snap even on special teams, so it appears the Steelers would be fine rolling with four cornerbacks as last week they only gave snaps to three.
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk- If the Steelers really wanted an extra cornerback, they could go with only five defensive linemen. If so, it would likely be Loudermilk who would go back to the inactive list. Last week he only saw three special team snaps so the Steelers could get by. One other outside possibility is the Steelers putting Witherspoon on IR and bringing back DeMarvin Leal for this game which would also put Loudermilk on the list. The Steelers haven’t brought back anyone in the first week of their window for a long time. But if they want to make the move with Witherspoon, bringing back Leal wouldn’t be terrible and he could even be the one inactive.
S Minkah Fitzpatrick- He has no injury status, and the threat of his playing is enough to keep him off the inactive list. Fitzpatrick can fill a number of roles in this game ranging from playing every snap to getting the Myles Jack treatment from last week. Additionally, the Steelers could choose to roll with Kazee as the every-down safety and bring in Fitzpatrick when they want to go with a three safety look. We’ll see on Sunday how the Steelers play it.
Projected Inactive List:
- Ahkello Witherspoon
- Mason Rudolph
- Kendrick Green
- Mark Robinson
- Josh Jackson
With Minkah Fitzpatrick coming back from the appendectomy, if he is active it makes sense to have the extra safety just in case. Therefore, I have the Steelers going with five safeties and four cornerbacks with Josh Jackson not getting a helmet. The rest of the list is pretty straightforward. The only thing that would change is if the Steelers finally decide to put Ahkello Witherspoon on IR, but they have had the chance to do that since Week 4 and have not done so. Eventually they might get around to it. This feels an awful lot like Carlos Davis last year where he missed five games with a knee injury until finally going on IR. If Witherspoon would go on IR this week, I would look for DeMarvin Leal to come off IR. Then the only question is if the last player on the list is going to be Isaiah Loudermilk or if the Steelers choose to give Leal another week before game action.
As always, feel free to list your projected inactives in the comments below.