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Steelers vs. Bills inactives: Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick officially active for Wild Card

Breaking down the Steelers inactives for Monday’s Wild Card showdown against the Bills...

Minkah Fitzpatrick #39 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs onto the field before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Acrisure Stadium on October 29, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Jaguars beat the Steelers 20-10. Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

We’re just under 90 minutes out from kickoff of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Wild Card matchup against the Buffalo Bills, and both teams have officially announced their gameday inactives.

Here’s a full look at the Steelers inactives for the Wild Card Round.

Steelers inactives for the Wild Card Round

  • OLB T.J. Watt (knee)
  • QB Mitch Trubisky (3rd QB)
  • CB Darius Rush
  • LB Blake Martinez
  • DL DeMarvin Leal
  • OL Dylan Cook
  • S Elijah Riley

As expected, the Steelers are officially set to be without star edge rusher T.J. Watt, who was ruled out early last week for this matchup in recovery of a knee injury suffered in Week 18. It’s unclear if he’ll be ready to return in time for the Divisional Round if the Steelers were to pull off the upset. Expect rookie Nick Herbig and veteran Markus Golden to get plenty of run in Watt’s place opposite Alex Highsmith.

Beyond Watt, the rest of the Steelers’ inactives list is comprised of healthy scratches — a huge positive for this team that’s dealt with several injuries throughout the season, particularly on the defense.

The best news of all for Pittsburgh ahead of the Wild Card is the absence of two names in particular, including All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and teammate Damontae Kazee, who have each missed each of the past three games with a knee injury and a suspension, respectively.

Their absences forced the Steelers to get creative in the secondary, utilizing a mix of Eric Rowe and career cornerback Patrick Peterson at safety. In his three starts, Rowe in particular has shown out, with 29 total tackles (1 for a loss), 1 interception and a forced fumble. It’s unclear how much playing time he’ll still get with Fitzpatrick and Kazee back in the mix, however.

Bills inactives for the Wild Card Round

  • WR Gabe Davis (knee)
  • S Taylor Rapp (calf)
  • CB Rasul Douglas (knee)
  • LB Tyrel Dodson (shoulder)
  • DT Poona Ford
  • OT Alec Anderson
  • DE Kingsley Jonathan

The Bills have officially ruled out three starters for the Wild Card round, including wide receiver Gabe Davis, cornerback Rasul Douglas and linebacker Tyrel Dodson, in addition to backup safety Taylor Rapp. The other inactives listed are healthy scratches for the game.

We can expect some additional involvement from wide receiver Khalil Shakir and rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid working alongside wide receiver Stefon Diggs in the absence of Davis. Still, it remains to be seen how the Bills will manage their deep pass attack without Davis in the mix this game. Davis has led the team with 25 targets of 20+ yards, tied for the 12th most receptions and 16th-most receiving yards on such targets among all NFL wideouts.

Even bigger, perhaps, are the losses of those injured on the defense, having already incurred season-ending injuries to several starters this year, including cornerback Tre’Davious White (Achilles) and Matt Milano (leg). Douglas, in particular, is a monstrous hit, having been a cornerstone of the secondary since traded to the team from the Green Bay Packers ahead of the NFL trade deadline.