The Steelers head home after two straight games on the road battered and bruised and take on the Tennessee Titans in week 5 with 6 players listed as out on the injury report as of Friday. That makes it real easy to predict most of the inactives this week, but there is still the question of who the 7th one will be. Let\’s have a look at the injured players and take a guess at the final inactive player.
RB Mewelde Moore – Moore suffered an ankle injury against the Texans last week and was spotted wearing a boot all week. He did not practice all week and was ruled out on Friday. Jonathan Dwyer will get a helmet this week for the first time this season and it will be only the second game of his career that he has dressed. Starter Rashard Mendenhall was listed as questionable on Friday with a hamstring injury but practiced on a limited basis on Friday. There was some speculation that John Clay could be activated from the practice squad, but at the time I write this late on Saturday, no move has been announced. This likely means that Mendenhall will indeed dress, but there is no guarantee he starts. The Steelers might use him as an emergency third back and let Isaac Redman handle the bulk of the work.
G Chris Kemoeatu – Kemoeatu will miss his second game of the season with that balky knee and an injured hand. He likely would have sat last week as well had the Steelers had enough healthy bodies on the offensive line. There is some speculation that he could miss the week 6 game as well against Jacksonville to get a little healthier. That likely depends on if the Steelers suffer any more injuries to the offensive line and how Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster play this week at both of the guard spots. Legursky will start at left guard with Kemoeatu out this week.
DE Aaron Smith – Smith suffered a mid foot sprain against the Texans last week and he too spent plenty of time in a walking boot this week. There is no word on if it is just a one week injury or not at this time. The Steelers get Brett Keisel back this week from his two game absence after suffering a sprained knee against the Seahawks back in week 2. The return of Keisel means that Ziggy Hood will flip back to left defensive end and start in the place of Smith. Chris Hoke will likely spell Hood when he needs a breather.
NT Casey Hampton – Head coach Mike Tomlin did not reveal the Hampton injury during his Tuesday press conference and it was a bit of a shocker when Hampton surfaced on the Wednesday injury report. He missed Thursday and Friday as well and was ruled out for this week. With Hampton down, Hoke and Steve McLendon will likely share time at nose tackle when the Steelers are in their base defense. There is no word of how serious the shoulder injury is to Hampton. Hopefully it is just a one week injury.
LB James Harrison – Harrison suffered a fractured right orbital bone in his face last week against the Texans and had surgery on Wednesday. Early word is that he could miss 4-6 weeks due to the injury. Lawrence Timmons will now move outside and assume the right outside linebacker spot while Harrison is out. Larry Foote will now assume the inside linebacker spot that Timmons normally plays.
LB Jason Worilds – Worilds suffered a quad injury against the Texans and did not practice all week. He too was ruled out on the Friday injury report. Rookie Chris Carter will dress this week and likely chip in on special teams with Worilds down.
CB Cortez Allen – The last inactive spot could go to several players as Jamon Meredith, Dennis Dixon and Bryant McFadden are all candidates. Allen was not able to practice all week with his ankle injury, so he would be my best guess to be down this week. If he is, that would mean that Dixon would dress for the first time this season. If Allen dresses then Dixon likely will be the 7th inactive. McFadden has not been on the injury report for several weeks now, so he should be about ready to at least dress as the 5th cornerback. The way the offensive line has been bit by injuries, it is likely a good idea for Meredith to dress as an 8th lineman this week. Should Mendenhall end up being ruled out later tonight or in the morning, he would become the 7th inactive.